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Stroke Rate – Cadence – Stride Frequency

One of the 5 systems we look to train when designing a program is called neuromuscular, this term simply means the link between brain and muscle.

When we see a regular program we might expect to see sessions set to heart rate or effort levels and even power but the specifics of neuromuscular development are often left out, and with major consequence come race day. So many athletes complain of cramping on race day that they never experience in training and first their response is always bad nutrition and lack of salt but I think more often than not its poor neuromuscular development to the demands of racing.

To look at this, say the majority of your riding is done on flat terrain and you typically ride at 80-90 cadence when riding, let’s say your training for a hilly Ironman race such as Nice, this event has a long section of hills over the first 100km of the race and those hills, while not overly steep will require power riding and will have you riding more in the 60-70 cadence range. If you have done the vast majority of your riding in the 80-90 range, then on race day you’re riding at 60-70, you simply do not have the neuromuscular conditioning to cope with this demand. As a result after 90min or so your muscles will experience overload to this stimulus and start spasming, cramping.

So when designing a training program we need to look not just at the physiological fitness but also the neuromuscular demands we will face on race day. Let’s look at the 3 sports and how we can set sessions to work on neuromuscular development and told we need to do this.


Tool – Finis Tempo Trainer Pro

With the swim stroke, rate is the key to performance and an area often ignored. From the beginner all the way to elite swimmer, we all can improve with some specific stroke rate work.

With the beginner swimmer, one of the biggest obstacles to good swimming is thinking. If we think too much when we swim, we tend to develop a very robotic stroke with lots of errors and dead patches where we have no forward momentum. The brain can’t cope with too many instructions so thinking about the front of one stroke while trying to kick and perfect the end of stroke with other arm – all just goes bad. The main problem is the stroke rate is just so slow and too much time for things to go wrong. With the tempo trainer in play we can set a stroke rate and the focus goes from thinking about stroke to just keeping up stroke rate to the beeps of the tempo trainer.

As a start I would look to achieve a stroke rate around 34-36 strokes per minute and then build up towards 36-38 strokes per minute. When we swim with this tempo we remove the dead points of the stroke and have a more continuous forward momentum which leads to after swimming.

For the more experienced swimmer it may not be a case of dead points to the stroke, but more a case of the swim stroke is long and slow which, while fast in a pool does not translate well to open water and too many factors can put off the stroke. Speeding up your stroke rate will ensure you swim faster in open water – for the more experienced swimmer a stroke rate in the 38-42 strokes per minute range would be my target.

Also, we need to factor in what the race environment will be like – if it’s in the ocean or a river we have tides and current to contend with and we need to think a faster cadence into the current and slower rate when with the current  in order for latest swim.


Tools – cadence sensor
The bike section of any triathlon is the longest in terms of distance and duration so neuromuscular fatigue is one of the biggest factors at play in performance. We tend to see that the best running off the bike in races happens on hilly or undulating courses rather than flat courses which would seem counter intuitive at first glance, but when we look closer makes a lot of sense. In a flat race we tend to stay in the same position and ride at the same cadence for the whole duration – this is stressing the exact same muscle fibres for the duration of the bike and leads to more fatigue off the bike, whereas on a hilly undulating ride we change position many times and ride with a variety of cadences so spreading the workload over more fibres and leaving the legs fresher and more prepared for the run off the bike.

All bike programs should have specific instructions on cadence  built in to make sure the rider is well trained and conditioned to riding at a variety of cadences come race day.


Tool – stride rate counter – found on Garmin and Polar devices

With running we want to train for the specifics of running off the bike not running fresh. There are many technique implications here and we want to run with a technique that utilises the body’s natural running reflex action rather than running muscularly – i.e with long loping strides. When we get off the bike in Ironman we have little strength remaining and can’t run with muscular strength rather we need to run with a fast stride rate that stresses the cardio system more than the muscular system.

While we can go and look for a technique guru to change running to be optimal for Ironman, working on stride rate alone will fix almost all running technique issues. As a simple instruction set stride rate to 180 steps per minute and your technique will be significantly changed for the better. The harder you find this initially, the more of a difference it will make on your running off the bike once you have the neuromuscular pattern set.

When we run at this stride rate we do not have time to over-stride in front of the body and also no time to push hard off the foot – this reduces impact at the front of the stride so reducing injury risk from impact and reduces push off which reduces the likelihood of calf strains and achilles injuries.

So have a look at your training plan again with new eyes and make sure you add in the neuromuscular element to your plan for a more rounded program and improved performance come race day.

Enjoy your training!

ironguides is the leading Lifestyle Facilitation company for athletes of all abilities. We provide coaching and training services, plans and programs, as well training education, health and fitness products to help you learn and live a healthy lifestyle. Come get fit with one of our monthly training subscriptions, event-specific training plans, coaching services, or a triathlon training camp in an exotic location! ironguides also provides Corporate Health services including Corporate Triathlons, Healthy Living retreats and speaking engagements. Atironguides, your best is our business!

By Alun Woodward, coach,

More info at



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Personalized Online Coaching:  Starting at USD190/month

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Event based training plans:

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Ironguides Bangkok: February 2020



ironguides Bangkok newsletter: Stay updated on what our group is up to!

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February 2020

Dear athletes, below the relevant updates for the upcoming month

* Open water swimming February 10th (Public holidays) – 8.30am @Taco Lake

* Ironman 70.3 Bangsaen Recovery week – classes cancelled all week of 24th, memberships credited 1 week
* ironguides social – February 29th @Gram cafe + announcement of new ironguides schedule & changes for 2020
* Training Camps 2020 Series – Dates confirmed

Enjoy your training,

New Schedule & changes – starting in March 2020     

We listened to your feedback and we will be implementing several changes going forward. We are also considering the pollution crisis to implement these changes.

More details coming up after Bangsaen Ironman 70.3 and full explanation at the ironguides Social on February 29th

Members Updates 

Photos from the ironguides Ironman 70.3 Training Camp in Sam Roi Yot – 25-26 Jan 2020

ironguides Social @Gram cafe 

Come and celebrate our results from Ironman 70.3 Bangsaen!

ironguides Bangkok will also have several changes in its schedule and structure starting in March 2020, our coaches will explain details about them.

Gram Cafe Sukhumvit 39
Time: 2pm
Location: Gram Cafe
Facebook page
Address: Sereine Residence, 19/9, Soi Sukhumvit 39, Klongton Nua, Watthana, Bangkok 10110

Ironman 70.3 Bangsaen Recovery Week 

We are taking a week break after Bangsaen!

As most of our members are racing the Ironman 70.3, all classes week of Feb 24th will be cancelled. Memberships will be credit 1 week.

We are also using this week to make several changes within ironguides Bangkok including a new schedule.

Camps Calendar 2020     

Our camp calendar is now confirmed for 2020. Each camp will have a different purpose and focus on either a specific distance or skill. We may be adding more events in 2020. Stay tuned via newsletter and Facebook group!

23-24 May, HUA HIN – Ironman & Long Distance Cycling Camp

Long distance camp. Ideally for athletes racing Ironman events in the middle of the year or if you want to get some long hours done to build a base for the rest of the season. Registrations opening soon

1-2 AUG, HUA HIN – Hills & Skills Camp

All about up and down. This camp has the goal to improve your technical skills in the hills. There will be technical sessions as well as practical.

23-25 OCT (long weekend), LOCATION TBC – Mixed Camp

With a 3 day weekend, we will have the opportunity to mix things up a bit more. We are planning a combination of all the elements of the other camps: skills, hills, long sessions, race simulation. Location to be confirmed, either Phuket or Hua Hin

Q1 2021 – Ironman 70.3 Specific

Following the 2020 camp, this camp will prepare you both physically and help you set your strategy to perform at your best at the Ironman 70.3 distance

Open Water Swim Session @Taco Lake

We are planning a big endurance weekend from 8-10th Feb, 2 weeks before Ironman 70.3 Bangsaen. An Easy long ride on Saturday (on your own), Tri-Dash (long distance) on Sunday, and a long swim in the lake on monday. Enjoy the ironguides discount for 10% off at the tri-dash

Swim session (10th February 2020, Monday – public holidays)

0800-0830 – Arrival & Gear prep
0830-0915 – Warm up (800 to 1600m or open water skills workshop)
0915-1000 – Race Simulation + cool down (1600m)

Total distances (approx):
Beginner – 2,400m
Intermediate – 3,000m
Advanced – 3,200m

-Free for members
-600THB drop in non-members (book here)
-Includes access to the lake, a personal safety buoy, locker & shower.

*Taco lake is ~1h drive from Central BKK


*Open water Swim Session – Feruary 10th

Coached Sessions

  • Where: Racquet Club (Map below).
  • Time: 7.30pm-8.50pm
  • Monday, Advanced level only.  Requirement: Sub 7’30” minutes for a 400 meters time trial.
  • Thursday, Beginners & Intermediate only: Slower than 8 minutes for 400m.
  • If you are a monday swimmer and you miss a session, please don’t come on Thursday. Thursday swimmers dont have that opportunity, you are too fast for your lane mates and if everyone does the same, pool will be too crowded


  • Free for club members and coached athletes (1x a week only – on the day it fits your ability)
  • 600thb for drop in athletes (book & pay online, in advance)


Weekly Coached Sessions + Run off the bike (bring running shoes)

Where: National Stadium 200m blue track – pictured below (refer to meeting point when raining at map below)
When: Wednesdays @6.30-8.30pm

*Free for club members & coached athletes
*600thb for drop in athletes (book & pay online, in advance)

How it works:
*ironguides provides indoor bike trainers for all athletes and do a transition set by the run track.
*A typical day consists of 2 sets of 30min of bike + 10min run at track

*Bring a heart rate monitor if you can, a towel and iced water
*Session is ON if rains

Monthly Velodrome Sessions:

*Next velodrome session: March 2020 (date TBC)

Where: Velodrome inside Rajamangala Stadium (Hua Mak) on Ramkhamhaeng road.

When: Saturdays @7.30-9.30am (technique drills starts at 7.30am)

*Free for club members & coached athletes
*350thb for drop in athletes (book & pay online, in advance)

What if it rains or we cant use the velodrome due to any race/event:
*We do a bike technique & skills drills instead. Same meeting point


Weekly Coached Sessions

Where: Suphachalasai 400m track
When: Tuesdays @6.30-7.50pm


*Free for club members & coached athletes
*350thb for drop in athletes  (book & pay online, in advance)

Membership & Coaching Service Offers

Drop in Sessions (book & pay online, in advance)

  • Cost: 350thb run & velodrome sessions, 600thb swim & bike trainer sessions. Payment in advance, non-refundable due to limited slots per class.

Triathlon Club Membership – 3 months option 

  • 3 months membership: 6.900thb

Includes access to weekly swim, bike run sessions, training plans library, article & apparel/helmet voucher. (more)

Personalized Coaching:


  • Access to all sessions
  • Personalized training plan
  • Email with your coach
  • Apparel voucher

Starts at 5.900thb/month (more)

Sponsors & Discounts: 


Find the discount code inside your training plan / login area:

TRI-DASH THAILAND: 10% OFF at any event during 2020 – use our coupon code on the members area when registering for the race

 Training Plan library 

Training Plans library updated (workouts in 3 levels Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced):

* 9 Training plans (3 distances in 3 levels): 
Ironman, Half Ironman, Short Course & Duathlon training plans available

* Documents:
-11-page Ironman 70.3 race manual
-Traveling guidelines, Big day – Race simulation workout.
-21 race workouts to your short course plan, ironman recovery guidelines
-guidelines on nutrition, recovery, stress & core training

Access training plan area and sponsor discount codes HERE

Canned Training Plans now in THAI language

โปรแกรมฝึก (ไทย) หรือ คลิก เพื่อดูภาษาอังกฤษ. Training Plans (in Thai) or click here for training plans in English ironguides มีโปรแกรมฝึกที่เหมาะสมกับประสบการณ์และรายการแข่งที่คุณตั้งไว้เป็นเป้าหมาย ทุกโปรแกรมที่ตั้งอยู่บนหลักของ The Method ™ ให้รายละเอียดสำหรับแต่ละครั้งการฝึกสำหรับระยะเวลาที่ดีที่สุดในการเตรียมตัวเพื่อให้คุณอยู่ที่จุดสตาร์ดด้วยความรู้สึกที่ฟิต สุขภาพดี และมีความมั่นใจ

Online Booking system for drop in classes   

Online Booking system for drop in athletes

In order to maintain quality of our sessions as our group grows, we now require advanced booking for drop in athletes via our website – it’s a very easy and simple system and takes less than 2 minutes. Please understand that no more cash payments will be accepted. Note that tri-club members aren’t required to book their presence.

The aim is to increase workout quality to club members while still providing the opportunity for non-members to come in casually & allowing new athletes to try out.

How to make your booking online:

1) Access > booking option is on the top of the page > Select desired class

2) Select date > Confirm availability > Fill in name + email > Send

3) Confirm details > finalize payment via paypal > receive confirmation email. No refund since when you book a class you take one limited slot.

 Maps – Squad location

Racquet Club @google map – Map 1

Racquet Club Map 2


Meeting point trainer session on wednesdays when raining

Velodrome @ Rajamangala Stadium (Hua Mak)

Running Track by National Stadium BTS (next to MBK)

In This Issue

Squad Sessions – Updates:
• Cycling
• Running

• Events & Races Calendar 
 Members Updates 

Articles & Videos:
Exclusive squad article & Training Plan

 Tri Gear: ironguides Apparel

Membership & Coaching Service Offers 
 Free eBook: ironguides’ Triathlon Secrets

Squad location 

Website Refresh

We refreshed our website! Did you notice? Check out our new look at

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