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Days OFF: Learn How to Read Your Body Before Taking One

Time for the next session—but you’re tired and unmotivated to head out of the door. You’re not sure if the fatigue comes from having had a stressful week at work, or if you went a bit too hard at those weekend sessions. You are a dedicated athlete who feels very guilty whenever you miss a session. At the same time, you know that training through fatigue or illness is bad for your health. So what to do?

For this scenario, The Method athletes are given a few simple guidelines to “test drive” their bodies to help decide if they ought to skip a training session on any given day.

The key? WHEN IN DOUBT …  try it out!

This does NOT mean that you train when you’re sick.

But on those days when you’re unsure whether your should train, or not, The Method encourage athletes to simply try out your body to see what it tells you. Start the session with a very, very easy 20 to 30 minutes before making that call.

If you feel better, continue your session as planned. If needed, back off and take it easy later in the set if you find that you’re deteriorating.

If after that initial 20-30mins you feel the same, i.e. neither much better nor much worse, modify the session so that it places less strain on your body. For example, if you’re to do a long endurance effort, cut the duration. See how you feel later in the session before deciding if you’ll carry on. If you’re to do a lactate-tolerance session, greatly moderate both the duration and the intensity of the efforts and give yourself a lot more rest between each effort. You still engage your high-end aerobic system and fast-twitch muscle fibres, helping to maintain your accumulated fitness gains until you feel strong again.

If you feel worse after testing your body for that very easy 20-30mins, pack it in and head home. Your body’s telling you that it’s not prepared to train today; you might be fighting an impending illness or simply need to recover. Heed the warning and take the day OFF.

A stitch in time saves nine—if you’re ill or fighting illness, having a few days of rest from training will prevent a prolonged forced break from training and racing.

Use these simple guidelines to judge the most appropriate response on days when you feel sluggish or off. Often, you’ll have a great training session on a day you might otherwise have written off.

And on days you feel great?! Go for it! Just remember, the goal is not to deliver hammer blows to the body, but to generate a long-term, consistent training stimulus.

Try as we might, there is simply no way to avoid getting sick once in awhile. For these times, The Method stipulates you take time off and recover. Remember: With The Method everything is relative. When you’re sick, the body is weakened and needs to recover from training. The goal is to achieve maximum, effective consistency.

With all that said, The Method doesn’t set in stone when you’re to take rest from training. Unfortunately, this heretical notion of The Method has led to more misinterpretation than any other of its principles.

Life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at us: work, family and community commitments often cause us to miss out on training. Rather than worrying about missed training when this happens, take comfort from the fact that you’ve been training consistently and diligently until then.  Your days off due to commitments elsewhere become your rest days from training, and are automatically suited to your life schedule since they come when you truly need the time elsewhere, rather than when a schedule hammers them out.

You can also look at it this way: No schedule can accurately predict what you’ll be doing each day for months down the road. Quite simply, what The Method tells an athlete is rest when you need it.
Many amateur athletes spend the better part of their day physically recovering from their training at a desk or otherwise in their daily work. The Method accepts that most amateur athletes do not have the luxury of a daily routine dedicated to sport alone.

For this reason, The Method distinguishes between mental rest and physical rest. For example, a stressful work-travel day on which you can’t train may cause you much mental fatigue while your physical training systems have been resting. Consequently, that stressful day counts as a rest day, even though you might be tired from it.

Keep in mind that everything is relative in The Method training. The hormonal context in which The Method places you determines how you ought to train subsequently. If the stressful travel day
comes on top of a lot of other stress in your life, it can create a significant catabolic experience for your body. In this situation, The Method’s approach advises you to avoid endurance work or excessive lactate-tolerance training immediately following or during this (or other) high-stress period.

After taking a day off, be smart when getting back into the training. If circumstances required you to rest, use these simple rules to get back on the plan:

* Add some volume to the start of the workout in order to kick start your body again before trying any intensity. You don’t want to go too hard while being too rested. Rather, add volume to tire yourself a little bit without pushing the intensity. Then do your intervals. For example, add 30 minutes of easy running before the main set.

* If you are a performance-oriented athlete, then take an easy day in each of the sports after your day off. The reason is that you probably needed the day off due to deep fatigue levels, and the extra bit of easy training will help you recover back to normal fatigue levels. Then you’re most likely good to go again!

Learn how to read your body and stay consistent to your plan!

Enjoy your training,

Vinnie Santana,
ironguides Head Coach


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. At ironguides, your best is our business!

Train with ironguides!

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)

X-Terra (USD65 for 12-week plan)

Running Plans (10k, 21k and 42k – starting at USD40)


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ironguides Bangkok – October 2021 Updates


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

Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.

It’s been a while since we last trained together but we are excited to be relaunching our group sessions in Bangkok.

* The Warm Up (Head Coach Notes)
* For members only – reactivate your membership
* Members Updates: You are an Ironman! 2 inspiring first timers
* Welcome coaches Champ & David
* ironguides Training APP: All in one place
* Group Sessions are back!
* On your marks! Club races coming up
* Gear review – Best mask for exercising & wetsuit for the winter

Enjoy your training,

Visit ironguides Bangkok

The Warm Up (Head Coach Notes)

Dear Members,

The Warm Up (Head Coach Notes) is one of the changes of the ironguides relaunch I prepared for this new phase in our team.

Our sessions are resuming next week with a new schedule, adapted to the pandemic, we will make it as safe and as fun as possible. If you are a member, you will find below more information on how to activate your membership.

There has also been changes in our coaching team. As many of you may know, Coach Ivan had a bike fall which resulted in a surgery, it was special to see the ironguides community getting together to fund his recovery.

It was also a good time for both of us to revise our goals and we agreed to part ways, Coach Ivan will be focusing on his recovery, his racing and launching his own team and I wish him all the success in his new venture and we all thank him for his help while at ironguides. As Coach Ivan was under ironguides when most of you purchased your membership with him, I wanted to update about this change as well as ensure that we will maintain your membership status and access to our club, you may also check with him any benefits his old members may get with his new coaching business.

We are happy to welcome two coaching experts in their own field that will complement each other making our team bigger and stronger, more about Coaches Champ and David below. I will be more present at the sessions in this initial phase to ensure a smooth transition and I’m also now back fully managing ironguides Bangkok.

The lack of official races has taken a toll in our group motivation and consistency, so we are filling in the gap as the current restrictions do allow us to organize small events for our community.

We have also launched our training app, where you will have access to your training plan, monitor your performance as well as interact with other members who are doing the same training plan. How about using the message board to find members to train with? Or share information about the next race you are going to? The social wall is also a fun feature we can use to share photos and more casual information. In the training plan sections, the bike workouts are also based on power, so you can upload them on zwift or any other cycling app for higher quality workout. Check video below on how it works

There has also been some changes in our schedule and coaching coaching packages to accommodate these changes and services that we are providing, we have added more flexibility to our athletes.

And last not least, in the members updates we have a couple very inspiring stories, this is all about the team and the athletes!

Enjoy your training,
Vinnie Santana
ironguides Head Coach

Members Updates: `You are an Ironman!`

Races are back in Europe, we had 2 very inspiring performances and first timers Ironman finishes in September:

Andrea went from beginners lane in swimming to a 11h30 Ironman (with a 1h13 swim!) in 2 1/2 years @Ironman Italy

Congrats Roman Floesser @ Challenge Roth 10h49

Welcome Coaches Champ & David

Coach Champ – (Pipatpon Ingkanont) – ironguides Bangkok Triathlon Coach

Coach Champ is a former special force of the Thai army that is now finishing his master degree in Sports Science at the Chulalongkorn University. He is currently taking the ironguides coaching certification and has completed certification course level 1 and also holds certifications with Endure IQ.

He is also the Head Coach of Garmin run club Thailand and has helped dozens of triathletes and runners via workshops, classes and training camps.

As an elite triathlete, Champ is a 2x Ironman 70.3 World Championships Qualifier, 5x Ironman 70.3 Age Group Winner and has trained under some of the world’s best coaches including Olympians and Ironman World Champions.

Champ will coach most of the running sessions as well as help with other sessions, events and management of the team

Coach Champ

Coach David Milziner

A familiar face among the ironguides team, Coach David has coached our squad several times as a substitute as well as worked privately with some of our members, he is now our Swimming Coach.

David is a very experienced swimming instructor specializing in adult swimmers. A certified coach with Swimming Australia, Total Immersion Swimming and Conquer Your Fear of Water, he has helped several triathletes of all abilities to take their swim to the next level combining his experience on deck fixing swimmers strokes, his background as a competitive pool swimmer as well as several triathlon relays and open water swimming races, where he recently placed in the top 10 at the FINA World Championships Masters meet in Korea 2019 in the 3km open water event in his age group.

Coach David 

ironguides APP – ALL in one place

With our new app we have 3 mains goals:

Provide you a training plan & coaching support

All Training Plans are available in 2 loads, high and low (# of hours and training days) as well as 3 levels of workouts (beginner, intermediate, advanced)

Plans available 
Ongoing Triathlon (short course & overall development)
Balanced Running (5, 10k & overall development)
16-weeks Ironman 70.3
20-weeks Ironman Full
Bike Development, Swim Run maintenance
Run Development, Swim Bike maintenance
Swim Development, Bike Run maintenance

How it works: Sign up for the plans package, fill in the questionnaire with goals & background, discuss with the coach your 3 month plan, start training. Watch our explainer video. 

Build an Online Community

The message board is more structure, a good place to find training buddies doing the same training plan and sessions as you on non-coached days. Organize trips to races or events. Stay updated on coaching announcements

The social wall is a casual place to exchange information such as racing opportunities, training photos, members updates.

Manage your Performance

A training log to manage and log your training information with special features such as performance calculators and training performance analysis

Desktop View of your training plan. Mobile version also available

Manage your Performance – Mobile Performance analysis

Online Community: Train together, Race together, share experiences online and offline

Watch App Explainer Video

Membership & Coaching Service Offers

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

  • Cost: 400 THB running sessions, 600 THB swimming sessions. Payment online, in advance (non-refundable)

3 Months – Sessions Only Membership: 2 options  

  • Run Sessions only: 2500 THB per 3 months
  • Run + Swim Sessions: 4500 THB per 3 months

Includes access to weekly sessions, ironguides member status (preferred pricing on events & apparel)

3 Months – Sessions + Training Plan + Coaching Access: 2 options  

  • Run Sessions only: 4500 THB per 3 months
  • Run + Swim Sessions: 6500 THB per 3 months

Includes access to training plans via app, quarterly email with Coach to structure your training plans, weekly sessions, ironguides member status (preferred pricing on events & apparel)

Personalized Coaching + Sessions:


  • Access to all sessions
  • Customized training plan
  • Weekly communication with your coach
  • Member status

Starts at 5.900thb/month (more)

Members Only! We need to confirm your membership status

Regarding the time left on your membership, and you can track it following the steps in this video using your login access on our homepage footer (if you can’t retrieve yours, reply to this email).  Memberships in our system are set for a 4th october start

We are offering our members 3 options – we need you to confirm via this form your preferred option:

a) Run Only Classes (+ bonus training plan and access to the ironguides app). This membership will run at a third of the usual rate (ie 20 days will be frozen monthly).

b) Swim + Run Classes (+ bonus training plan and access to the ironguides app). This membership will run at two third of the usual rate.

c) Maintain membership frozen until you are comfortable to come back to training

If you opt for option B, you will also need to select in the form one day to come swimming. Both days will offer the same workout, for now and all levels are welcome. Pick the day that best suits you.

Due to social distancing, lane space will be limited and sessions are from 6.45pm to 7.45pm as we need to be out of the facilities by 8pm.

We ask you to fill in this information until the end of tomorrow, October 1st  – if we dont hear from you, we will maintain the membership frozen by default – this will help us to confirm with members their swimming days (first come first served). Here is the form 

Reactivate my Membership

ironguides Races Series

The good news is that restrictions nows allows a max gathering of 25pax. We are now putting on our own club races while the official races don’t come back. This allows our team to stay motivated, fit, have fun and coming out ahead of the competition next season 😉

The next event is the ironguides Open Water swim team race 1.5km – there will be 2 teams with 12 athletes max per team. 2 races separate by level (12 athletes per race), your final ranking counts points for the team. Winning team get special prizes.

Team 1 has 6 athletes on the beginner race and experienced race
Team 2 has the same distribution.

1st place = 12 points
2nd place = 11 points
…10th place = 1 point

Slots limited to 20 swimmers, first come first served.
60 THB commitment fee for members (must still register entry time on google docs)
600 THB for drop in via our website then register entry time
Register now

Events Calendar

30th October: ironguides Collins Cup – Open Water swim team race 1.5km
20-21 November: Draft legal racing weekend (Saturday sprint & Sunday Olympic) – SOLD OUT
December event: TBC – keep training hard!

Race Registration


Coached Sessions at Racquet club 

  • Where: Racquet Club (Map below).
  • Time: 18.30-19.45pm (facilities close at 8pm)
  • Monday Technique & Beginners, Thursday sub 7`30 400m swimmers


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


Weekly Coached Sessions

Where: National stadium (warm up 200m blue track )
When: Wednesdays @18.30-20.00
Session on the 13th (holidays) is ON! Let’s build some momentum Cost:

*Free for members & coached athletes
*400thb for drop in athletes  (book & pay online, in advance)


We are planning quarterly sessions at the velodrome which is currently closed, meanwhile refer to your training plan for a structured workout, you can download the sessions to Zwift or Trainerroad and upload to the app folder, they will appear under Custom workouts. More instructions in the members area of our app
Download file from the ironguides app and move to zwift folder
You can now let zwift guide your ironguides training

Velodrome Session (real world zwift!) – Coming up

Gear Review:

T8 Run Max O2 Running Mask

 T8 running masks is one equipment advice we’ve been suggesting to some of our athletes during this pandemic.100% breathable, possible even for some fast intervals at Lumpini or anywhere masks are required. Highly recommend it. You can get them on Lazada for 590thb pack with 2 masks

Men’s Vector Pro Fullsuit Special

65% off – Ironguides athletes

Get ready for the winter! Bangkok pools can get icy cold waters from November to January. I highly recommend investing in a wetsuit so you dont need to take a break from your swim training, and you never know when you can race overseas and need them. Wetsuits makes you about 8sec per 100m faster.

You can purchase a wetsuit and use a shipping forwarder such as to get it shipped to Thailand, you can get a Vortex suit suit+taxes+delivery all for less than 9k THB or the Vector pro for less than 11k. They often offer the same 65% that our discount code gets you, check their website, if there aren’t any promo, our discount code in the members area inside the app. Combine the swuit with a thick silicon swim cap and you are good to go in any cold water.

Sponsors & Discounts:


Find the discount code inside your training plan or login area

TRI-DASH THAILAND: 10% OFF at any event during 2021 – use our coupon code on the members area when registering for the race

UJAMU: 10% OFF at any event during 2021 – use our coupon code on the members area when registering for the race

XTERRA WETSUITS: 65% OFF at any event during 2021 – use our coupon code on the members area when registering for the race

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Video: Analysis of Jan Frodeno World Record at the Ironman Distance

Jan Frodeno broke the world record for the ironman distance. In this video we have a look at how he did it as well as why can you can probably learn more from Lionel Sanders, the other athlete who took part of the race, than from Jan himself


Train with ironguides!

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)

X-Terra (USD65 for 12-week plan)

Running Plans (10k, 21k and 42k – starting at USD40)


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Video: Analysis of Kristian Blummenfeldt Olympic Gold in Triathlon – Strategy, power profile & Equipment

In this video I explain some of the strategy and equipment used by Kristian to win the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics as well as the analysis of his power profile on the bike course.


Train with ironguides!

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)

X-Terra (USD65 for 12-week plan)

Running Plans (10k, 21k and 42k – starting at USD40)


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Consistency is the Key to Improvement

Consistency and Repetition are the big secrets to all the top triathletes out there. If you were looking for a magic formula or a short cut to success I’m afraid to tell you there is none.

But that’s what I like about our sport – it embodies and rewards the good old fashioned values of hard work, dedication and sacrifice.


Train every day (and sometimes twice a day).

Don’t plan for 2 or 3 large ‘hard-core’ sessions in the week because these will leave you too wiped out to train the next day. The sudden shock to the system and muscle soreness from a killer session will convince you that you deserve a “Pat on the back” Day Off. Your body will indeed rest and recover and you will find yourself fresh again the next day to push (too) hard, again, through another mammoth session. This sets up a cycle of one day on/ one day off – which effectively halves your training time. .

Same goes for taking that mandatory rest day once a week (I blame runners). If you need this break to maintain balance in your life, that’s fine, but doing a little bit every day is the best way to build a sustainable level of ‘background fatigue’. The idea of building fatigue may sound counter-intuitive to some of you but the truth is that your body adapts (gets fitter) better when it is worked in an already pre-fatigued state. This is how to build endurance fitness – after all, isn’t out sport about becoming fatigue resistant?

Life will inadvertently throw you curve balls- an extra heavy day at work, a sick child, an urgent errand, – that will eat into your training time and prevent you from getting that day’s session in. Take that as your rest day instead!

Remember that convenience is KEY. As a time strapped age-grouper, work your sessions into your daily routine. This is your best chance of maintaining some form regularity.Train close to, or en route, to home or work. Map out a 2km running loop around the car park at work for those threshold intervals instead of making that special trip halfway across town to the track/ gym. As long as you have your running gear stashed away in a bag in your car/ drawer at work you can nip out and get it done.


Learn to love repetition.

My athletes stay on the same plan, doing the same sessions every week for at least 8 weeks. While this may seem like a long time, repetition is one of the cornerstones to a being successful at triathlon.

If you’re paying attention while training, it takes at least 3 – 4 weeks of repeating the same set to ‘get it’ – to understand how to execute the set well and what exactly the session is teaching your body to do. You also understand much better the recovery demands it makes on your body.

Before layering on the intensity and going balls out, your 1st task, when trying a new session is simply to complete it as best as you can, aiming for a ‘safe’ completion.  The 1st couple of times you do a new set it’s always trial and error anyway.

Only after you ‘get it’, when your body has started to adapt to the physical demands and your brain already knows what to expect, then can you start layering on the intensity So while completing the set has become second nature, executing the set better each time becomes the continual challenge- and this is when the real gains come!A repeatable 3 – 5 seconds off a 400m run interval/ 10 watt average power increase over a 15 min Time Trail on the bike- small but significant improvements and good indications that you are headed in the right direction.

Repetition allows you to control the variables in training and leads you to ask the important questions –

  1. How did I complete this set last week?
  2. How can I do it better this week?
  3. Do I need to adjust for how I am feeling today? Am I fatigued or stressed out?Do I need to dial down the intensity to complete the session?

Start by putting together a reasonable and balanced weekly training schedule that you have a realistic chance of completing. It should take into account your available training time, the facilities close to you,  your strengths and weaknesses, your history in the sport and of course your biggest and wildest triathlon dream goals.

For some triathletes these 2 principals may sound dry and monotonous but if you are looking to improve your triathlon performance, I encourage you to stay open-minded and curious about “The Method” and you’ll soon discover a whole new way of enjoying your training.


How to be Good at Triathlon

By Shem Leong

Train with ironguides!

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)

X-Terra (USD65 for 12-week plan)

Running Plans (10k, 21k and 42k – starting at USD40)


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Triathlon Training Volume: Is More, Better?

Training volume is a hot topic at any event with endurance athletes, but none more so than with triathletes. You would think at times the level of success is based off how many hours an athlete can train instead of the performance level of the athlete on race day.

As with all sports, we take the lead from the pros in ours. Almost every athlete interview I have seen features the question of how much and what training do you do—and the answers are pretty much always extreme. Again, with pros it’s a justification of being pro by stating how much training they do over the race performance!

I truly believe that all such interviews need to be taken with a pinch of salt. For example, Specialized produced a series of training day videos from their top triathletes—amazing to watch and see what these guys are doing in training but for sure they all chose the hardest longest days they could for the video. Something that was picked up in the final video of Simon Whitfield who joked about the crazy training of the other athletes and how he had to do more to try and look like a real pro!

These videos are great to watch but we have to keep in mind that the athletes are never going to show an easy week. When interviewed they will not let you know what they did on an easy day or week. They will always give you the biggest week they have ever done and then probably inflate it a little for good measure.

So, should we be following the pros? Is it going to lead to better results or worse ones?

We need to look at what the pro is training for in terms or racing, and what are we aiming for as a performance age grouper. We may be training for ironman and have a yearly ironman race or, as a performance athlete, we might have two, one as a qualifying race and then Kona.

A pro in the current system, on the other hand, needs to be racing probably 3 good ironman events just to qualify, plus Kona, and also several other races to secure points and make a living.

The big thing to consider here is recovery. A pro needs to race and recover fast to race again the next weekend, whereas a performance age grouper may have a good 6 to 12 weeks, or more, between key events. This ability to recover comes from superior fitness which is derived from training volume—it’s not always speed that volume gives you, it is fitness and an accelerated rate of recovery.

For a performance age grouper looking at Kona qualification, racing fast on the day is key—not recovering fast after the event!

A training week will be composed pretty much the same for a pro and a performance age grouper:




Once these key sessions have formed the skeleton of a plan, easy volume can be built around this—but the easy volume must not impact the quality of the key sessions. This is the crucial difference in my opinion between a pro and a performance age grouper. As an age-group athlete with a 40-50+-hour-a-week job, it is going to be hard to add easy volume around key sessions, and doing so most likely will impact the quality of the key workouts.

A pro, who can use the time between sessions to sleep and recover rather than work, can fit in a lot of easy volume without it impacting on quality sessions.

So let’s have a look at volume in an ironman plan for a top performance age grouper:

* LONG BIKE – 5 hours

* LONG RUN – 2 hours

* BRICK SESSION – 3 hours

* LONG SWIM – 90min

* 1-hour speed workouts in each sport

The total training time for a week like this is 14.5 hours: I would expect a week in this range to produce some great ironman performances and a lot of Kona qualifiers fit into this volume on average weeks.

Many, many athletes train a lot more than this but we have to remember that that does not mean they are improving performance as a result. There are, I believe, many athletes out there who would see big improvements in performance by dropping volume and focusing on key workouts instead.

We have to remember at the end of the day it’s race performance that should define us, not training volume. Better to crawl a wreck to the breakfast buffet the day after the race with your Kona qualification, than to bounce around fresh with no qualification in your pocket!

Train to race, not to copy the training of the pros.

Alun “Woody” Woodward – ironguides online coach

Train with ironguides!

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)

X-Terra (USD65 for 12-week plan)

Running Plans (10k, 21k and 42k – starting at USD40)

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Journey not Destination

Triathlon and endurance sports in general are very goal orientated and as a result attract highly driven individuals looking towards a goal or new challenge. We often read about goal setting and having targets but sometimes we need to take a step back from the destination and see if we are really enjoying the journey to get there. So often in sport and especially pro sport, we see athletes reach their dreams and the culmination of years of hard work only to wake up the next day feeling totally lost and empty, a feeling of expecting something amazing to have happened or that they feel different but in reality something that has been all encompassing is suddenly gone and that is hard to cope with.

We are all process driven and in the modern world this is forced upon us at a young age, from preschool through university and then into the working world as we look for a better job or higher position. It’s not surprising  then that we go into sports and look at the goal and end result straight away, we even start thinking about the sacrifices needed to make the goals happen and justify them right off as this is something we have been conditioned to do all our lives.

Triathlon offers an amazing journey, so many friendships to be made and experiences to be had for athletes, friends and family. The biggest races in our sport take place in amazing destinations that are great for vacations once the race is done! Taking a step back from immediate goal setting and looking at the journey ahead and how to enjoy it more can lead to a more successful result at the end of the day. A great time to start this is right now as one season is coming to an end.

At the end of the season I like athletes to look back over the year and not just see if they accomplished the goals they set out, but to see if they enjoyed the journey, if their family and friends have played a big part in the year. If you look back at the year, you should not be looking at all the sacrifices you have made, the time without family and friends, but rather the memories and experiences enjoyed along the way. I think too many athletes get to the end of the year and look back on great results and then see that they don’t remember much else, they have not been to their regular social events, missed children’s activities a little too often and spent too little time with partners.

Triathlon is a lifestyle sport and it does require a big time commitment and expense, if we look at the big picture when planning a training schedule and racing year we can organize everything to maximize family time and activities outside of the sport.

Family vacations are one of the big things that can suffer when we are looking to compete in Ironman, the races tend to fall in the summer months and added training time and stress in the final weeks leading into an event can have a big impact on family and friendships. I like my athletes to look at racing as the start of a vacation, take family along and look to do your race within 1-2 days of arriving and then enjoy a vacation after without the need to train and think about the sport. Planning this way will make the family feel more involved in the sport and your goals and they will not only give you more support they will build friendships around the sport.

If you have young children of school age then I think it is a good idea to look at races that take place before summer holidays or at least 8 weeks after the summer holidays, planning this way will allow you more time to enjoy with the family during the school holidays.

Planning this way will allow more balance into your life and reduce a lot of stress that does not need to be there, if your family and friends don’t feel like they are losing you to the sport they will be happier and you will enjoy your training much more without the feeling of having to make sacrifices all the time.

One of the overwhelming memories for me when out watching Kona in 2013 was not all the super fit athletes or the race itself but the family and friend support, walking around town while the athletes were out on the bikes race day the whole town was full of supporters. Watching the scenes post race it was a picture of families and friends together happy, it was nice to see that side of the sport the balance that I feel brings success.

Watching the end of an Ironman event you get a real sense of a journey coming to an end, the emotions are high and looking around at the athletes and supporters you can see that a lot has gone into the event, not only on the day itself but the journey to get there.

As we move through life it will not be the results that we remember at the end of the day, your family and friends will certainly not remember the result they will remember how happy you were achieving your goal and they will remember the journey to get there so make sure they are included and it is a fun journey to be on.

Enjoy your training,

Coach Alun “Woody” Woodward

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Video: How to stay swim fit with dryland Swimming

How to stay swim fit with dryland Swimming (exercises with elastic band)

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5 Ways to become a Faster Triathlon Runner

Are you looking to improve on your triathlon run-splits?

It is widely-acknowledged that fast pure running capability does not necessarily translate to a fast run split in triathlon, several world class runners have tried it, only to post below average run splits on the bike. There are too many factors that goes on before the run part, that you have to be patient, and also learn them on training. There is the factor of nutrition, fitness and pacing on the bike and in the water, which ultimately will reflect on your ability to run.

And it is also a known fact in triathlon, that to be a good runner, you better have to be a strong cyclist and done plenty of training in the pool too. Let’s say for the sake of training article, you have done the job in your training in the pool and on the bike and have become an above-average swimmer and cyclist at the very least. Also, you have done your homework on nutrition and pacing.

So how do you improve as a Triathlon Runner?

1. Learn, Practice Proper Running Form
Run economy. From the sound of it, it will be too technical on the outset. But even if you do commit to the basic drills of run economy, you will earn the benefit, even before you start training hard on those run workouts. Working hard, and spending precious time on the road, with an improper form is not smart training. At ironguides, we always had advocated short strides, and faster cadence. This is the foundation, and when you become fitter and stronger, that stride will lengthen a bit, producing better run times, at the same fast cadence you had developed.

Additional benefit: Better run skills and technique also means you will be lesser-prone to injury.

2. Attack your Run PR.
Triathletes are a slave when it comes to going long. We don’t mean a marathon PR here, not even in half-mary. Brandishing that shiny new run form? Sign-up for a run-only race, and go short. I mean 5k-10k run races. These short races are good auditions for your new, updated run form. Try to focus on your form, and see where it takes you. These short run races will give a high-intensity work-out while not punishing your legs (unlike what a half-mary of marathon will do), requiring a longer recovery period. What more, if you ran it well, and hopefully, a new PR, is a good confidence-builder in the middle of your build period.

3. Smart Bricks
Your body, or your legs for the matter must know how to run on tired and beat up legs. The weird sensation you feel after hard biking, the faster you get over it in a race, the faster you can focus on just running. And there is no better way to train for it than having bricks incorporated on your weekly block of training. The more you insert Transition Runs (15-20 minute runs after a bike workout, focusing on proper cadence and form) in your schedule, the better you are at disposing the jello-legs feeling you experience after the bike.

If you’re up for a key weekend workout, Long Bricks are also essential if you want to transition to a better runner. Usually a long ride followed by a 5-10k run, this is more of race simulation workout, and a good confidence builder leading to a race. This demanding workout usually combine a long ride Saturday-long run Sunday into one, so make sure to allocate recovery for it appropriately.

Additional Tip: Race Duathlons! I know some triathletes just hate duathlons, for it usually take longer days for the legs to recover after a race. Joining a duathlon as a part of prep races for the A- race is usually a smart as long as done at the right schedule. The best runners in the business came from duathlon background, and it is a joy to watch when effortlessly outrun their competition in the run leg.

4. Run Trails and Hills

Running on a trail means dirt road, and is usually way forgiving than the usual asphalt or worst, cemented surfaces that we do on our usual runs. Moreover, running on a trail means every step will be different, and will require more muscle recruitment, and even engaging your core. If done carefully, trail running will improve your stability as a runner, way more than running in a repetitive straight road running.

Bored with mundane run intervals, go substitute a weekly workout with this and you will immediately feel they can be as punishing as those intervals, or more.. How can slow, uphill run be so damn hard? They require more muscle recruitment firing up calves, hams and core immediately with every step up. Think of unlimited lunges, and spiking your heart rate just like intervals do. It is like a leg strength workout plus anaerobic workout combine into one.

Caution: If you are an inexperienced trail runner, don’t go extreme at first. Find a suitable trail course apt for your experience. Also, it is wise to run with someone who is familiar with the trail course. And make sure the path is relatively clear of roots and large rocks as it is easy to twist an ankle off-road.

5. Tweak your Long Runs

• Easy Long Runs

There are times when age groupers get lazy and they treat their long runs one and the same. Easy runs that are at a moderate to high effort, makes them tired and sluggish the day after.

There is a run training adage that says make your easy days easier, and your hard days harder. Anything moderately paced is counterproductive.

Think of the easy long runs as time on your feet, especially when you are gunning for middle to longer distance triathlons. These are supposed to build your body’s capability to handle physical discomfort, increase the quantity and size of mitochondria, improving oxygen use and glycogen storage.

Easy doesn’t necessarily means slow. Always focus on a good form and fast leg turnover. Consider also breaking your long run down in shorter repeats of 5 to 10min long with 1-2 min rest in between, this will allow you to run at a faster pace and appropriate technique, with the same easy aerobic load.

• Long Run Simulation
Say you are training for a half-distance triathlon, and you are on your race-specific period of your program. This simulation will require you to run a little bit faster than your goal pace for the 21km run of your half-distance race. Also, say the hydration stations in the race are 2km apart, and you plan to brisk walk to grab drinks and sponges, this will be simulated to as walking breaks for the workout.
*2km at easy (20-30 seconds slower per km), 3x 2km at goal pace, and 3x 2km at 10-15 seconds faster per km than Goal pace) 2km easy cooldown. 20-30 seconds walking rest in between reps.
This is a good simulation of your triathlon run, and will gauge if you can hold your goal pace at your race. As with any simulation, best to workout with your preferred nutrition and apparel you will use on your race. Race simulations will let you know how ready you are, and at the same time, fine tuning your final preparations.

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Q & A: Fueling for the evening session

Can you suggest what & when we should be eating pre/post training sessions? Especially as many sessions are over dinner time.

Good Question – many athletes with regular (long) office hours find themselves in this situation and we need to do our best to balance our pre- training energy requirements with the post- training recovery needs, without overdoing the late night dinner.


Pre – Training

1)     It depends a little on what you had for lunch. If you have had a full meal at lunch (ie – not grazing) then you may not need much at all. If you do feel hungry, make sure it’s not thirst you are feeling and sip away at a large glass of water or a zero carbohydrate electrolyte drink like Nunn. Choose the 2nd option – especially if you have trained in the morning.

2)     If you are peckish and feel like you need a little boost of energy before training, a few pieces of fruit is great. I like an apple or banana smeared with peanut butter. You can also try a small bag of Almonds / Trail Mix or a pot of yoghurt. Basically something that is small in volume and calorie dense that will not hang around in your tummy for ages.

3)     If you are starving and/ or hypoglycaemic, your best bet is go for something a little more substantial with a bit of fat in it, like a chocolate croissant or a Snickers bar, to fill you up and keep the hunger pangs away – and give you the energy you need to get you through your session.

4)     Stay away from caffeine in the early evening, even if you love the buzz that coffee gives you during a training session, because this will really mess with the sleep signals when it is time to turn in. This is what de-caf is for.

Post- Training

The main consideration is that you want the right mix of nutrients for recovery but not such a large quantity so that you are feeling too bloated to turn in at a reasonable time. With this in mind, you won’t be far off it you follow these principals.

1)     Eat as soon as possible after the session to give you as much time as possible to digest it. It’s a good idea to get a recovery drink in as soon as you finish your session to take care of the immediate replenishment. This will also help to moderate your appetite for when you get home and want to have some proper food.

2)     Ideally you’re looking for a meal that will fill you up (so you’re not hungry), is packed full of antioxidants and vitamins (for recovery) but is easily digested (so you can get to bed). For protein, I like fish over chicken over red meat at this time of night. I try to get a sizable portion of veggies – the more colourful the better – as this will fill me up nicely but not sit around in my stomach for ages. Veggies are nutrient dense and a source of carbs as well so this is a better option than filling up on refined carbs such as pasta and rice (that spike your insulin levels) alone. Get some oil/ fat in there as well (salad dressing/ butter/ cheese) to help aid digestion and absorption of fat soluble vitamins and to help you feel full.

If the cupboard is bare, I turn to 2 pieces of Vegemite on buttered toast, cheese and 2 half boiled eggs.

3)     Have just enough to cover your recovery needs. While at first this may sounds a little vague, if you pay attention to how your stomach feels relative to your activity levels for the rest of the night, you will get a good feel for what is just right for you. Work backwards from the time you want to get into bed and plan to have an emptyish feeling tummy by then.

4)     Lastly and most importantly – Beware the late night sugar craving! We often wreck our entire days’ worth of  good eating right at the end with the last and fatal grab for ‘just a taste of’ ice cream/ chocolate/ wine/ cereal/ muesli/ fruit. Don’t kid yourself; the last couple of options are sources of sugar as well!

What is happening is that while you are physically tired from a big day, and your body is telling you to start getting ready for bed, your brain on the other hand, especially if you’re plonked in front of the TV or Email or Facebook (low energy expenditure but high level mental stimulation) is active and needs more quick release energy to stay awake for longer. We tell ourselves that we’re ‘unwinding’ and we ‘deserve it’ and ‘it won’t make that much of a difference cos we’re training tomorrow’ as we reach for that late night nibble. All this time, the remnants of that sneaky little shot of coffee that I warned you about earlier, is still floating about in there urging you on.

This is the worst time to spike your blood glucose levels because it triggers a release of insulin which in turn switches your metabolism towards storing fat. The last thing you want is to go to bed with high levels of blood insulin. High insulin levels also signal the body to stop producing Human Growth Hormone (HGH) which is a desirable by-product from the solid strength session that you’ve just put in. HGH is a big player in the physiological adaptation and recovery of muscles and we want it to be at high levels as we go to sleep.

Essentially, there is a disconnect between body and brain and what is actually a signal to start the process of going to bed, is misinterpreted  as a sugar craving so that you can stay awake for longer. You must re- learn your response to this signal if you are looking to drop excess fat.


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