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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

Monthly Training plans (for all levels, or focused on one discipline): Only USD39/months

Event based training plans:

Sprint Distance (USD45 for 8-week plan)

Olympic Distance (USD65 for 12 week plan)

Half Ironman (R$95 for 16-week plan)

Ironman (USD145 for 20-week plan)

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Ironguides Bangkok – October 2020 Updates



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

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Dear athletes, below the updates for the upcoming month:

* Open water swim sessions cancelled on 4th and 25th October – Tri Dash race and public holiday,
Monday’s swim on 26th October   – public holiday
Monthly brik session (bike+run) at Sky Lane confirmed on 10th October
* Open water swim+run session at Taco lake confirmed on Sunday, 11th and 18th October

Enjoy your training,

Members Updates 

* Swimming classes at Raquet club every Monday and Thursday, 19:30
* Run classes on Thephasadin Stadium every Tuesday, 18:30
* Virtual bike sessions on Zwift every Wednesday, 18:30 (highly reccomended for those who have smart trainers).
*Monthly Sky lane brik session (bike+run) confirmed on Saturday 10th October, 7:30am
* Open water swim+run session at Taco lake on Sunday 11th and 18th October, 8:30am

Weekly virtual bike session on Zwift 

We keep our weekly virtual meet-ups on Zwift leading by coach Ivan Vlasenko

Every Wednesday: Ironguides meet up on Zwift, 18:30 (75min, main set: short intervals/hill repeats 30-180sec to improve your VO2max)

How it works: 
You need Zwift membership and the right set-up at home, ideally including a smart trainer with resistance and the Zwift Companion app on your phone.
In order to be able to join the meet-up, you need to follow “Ivan Vlasenko” on Zwift and Zwift Companion Application.
Once you follow  he will be able to invite you for a “meet-up”, and you need to accept the invitation in the app. It will appear in your planned events in the app.
You must connect to Zwift and start riding by yourself by clicking on “ride” at least 5 minutes before the official starting time. You can select any map, it does not matter. DO NOT click on “Ride with Ivan Vlasenko” on the menu page, else you might miss the official meet-up.

Once “in the game”, you should be able to click on “join Ivan Vlasenko’s meet-up” on the bottom left of the screen. The blue button will appear 5 minutes before the start of the meet-up. We will all be cycling on the Zwift stationary trainer for a few minutes until the official start time, use this as a warm-up and make sure you are ready for the ride (water, food, towels, fan, AC etc).

Open Water Swim+Run Session @Taco Lake

Coached sessions

Weekly Brik session – Open water Swim + run off the lake – every Sunday 8:30am (except race weekend and public holidays)
Please note only 2 sessions in October (11th and 18th October)

Open water swim session 
0815-0830 – Arrival & Gear prep
0830-0900 – Warm up (800 to 1100m or open water skills workshop)
0915-1000 – main set

Total distances (approx):
Beginner – 1,600m
Intermediate – 2,000m
Advanced – 2,500m

-600THB (book here)
-Includes access to the lake, a personal safety buoy, locker & shower.

*Taco lake is ~1h drive from Central BKK

Final Camp of the year in Hua Hin 31-Oct & 1-Nov.  Focus is Laguna Phuket Triathlon preparation   

Training Camp in Hua Hin with Coach Vinnie Santana
Final ironguides Training Camp Series of the year, 31-Oct & 1-nov. The focus will be a specific preparation for Laguna Phuket Triathlon, led by ironguides Coach Vinnie Santana.

Day 1 start with a bike run race simulation, 55k ride (with hills) followed by 6 to 12k run depending on your level. On day 2 a swim that mimics the transition from ocean to lagoon of Phuket, followed by hill repeats. There are some other sessions and lectures in the schedule too.

All levels welcomed as long as you can ride 40km at an average speed of over 27kph

More information – or

There will be plenty of climbing!

Camp Hotel – Amari Hua Hin


Coached Sessions at Racquet club 

  • Where: Racquet Club (Map below).
  • Time: 7.30pm-8.50pm
  • Monday and Thursday, Advanced and Beginner levels. 


  • Free for club members and coached athletes (2x a week)
  • 600thb for drop in athletes (book & pay online, in advance)


Monthly coached “Sky Lane brik” session:

Next Sky Lane session: 10th October

Where: Happy and Healthy Bike Lane, Suvanabhumi airport

When: Saturdays @7.30-10:00am (warm up starts at 7.30am)

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


Weekly Coached Sessions

Where: Thephasadin stadium 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 & cycling, 600thb swim sessions. Payment in advance, non-refundable due to limited slots per class.

Triathlon Club Membership – 3 months option 

  • 3 months membership: 6900thb
  • 6 months membership: 11900thb

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: 

Training and racing gear:

Online shop “Sport360” and Compressport Thailand offering you off season deal (buy 2 get 1 free), use promocode ivans360 and get another 10% off


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

Running Track by National Stadium BTS (next to MBK)

In This Issue

Upcoming Races Special – Coach Course Review
 Profile The Colless couple  
 Articles from the Coaches  

 Tri Gear: 2014 trisuit and bike jersey are ready 

 Special Offer: Off-Season Triathlon Training Subscription Plan
 Free eBook: ironguides’ Triathlon Secrets

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