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ironguides Partners up with AsiaTRI



Press Release: ironguides Partners up with AsiaTRI  

Introducing a new triathlon website focusing on Asia! is the leading website for all triathlon related news specific to the Asian region. “Our goal is to be the one-stop website for local athletes who are seeking the most updated content through our exclusive articles, local race coverage, international race coverage, Asian races calendar, local athlete and teams interviews and everything that is relevant to any Asian based triathlete” says Wagner Araujo who is head of MundoTRI group, a Brazilian based triathlon magazine in Portuguese language that is also launching its edition in Spanish for Latin America athletes.

AsiaTRI covers all formats and distances of the sport.  Just fresh from the races is reporting on Asian athletes at the ITU World Championships.  AsiaTRI aims to bring more news and coverage of Asian athletes at races to the community.

AsiaTRI is excited to help the growth of triathlon in the region by bringing the whole community together in one place.  Find us at the following links:

About AsiaTRI and ironguides

ironguides and from Brazil are partnering and providing support to this new effort for triathlon in Asia. ironguides will provide content specific to triathlon in the region through articles, videos and training plans.

Coach Vinnie Santana on the partnership, ““We are excited to be contributing to AsiaTRI growth in this region. As a coach, I’ve always felt the need for centralized for our Asian based athletes.”

ironguides is the leading Lifestyle Facilitation company for athletes of all abilities. We provide coaching and training services and plans, as well training education, health and fitness products to help you learn and live a healthy lifestyle:

MundoTri is Brazil’s largest triathlon focused website and has had a presence for over 7years. MundoTri provides the latest information and news on triathlon in Brazil and is seen as the central point for the triathlon community in Brazil. Check out more from MundoTri at:


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ironguides – the ekick August 2014

Need some motivation to get keep up with your training or get started?  Read our course reviews and athlete profiles for some inspiration!

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August 2014

Dear athletes, Welcome to the August edition of the eKick, ironguides newsletter! Are you wondering if you will be able to handle the amount of training required for an Ironman and your career, family, and other activities?  Shared in this edition is Stefan Leijdekkers experience and eventual Kona qualification. Enjoy the read, ironguides team

Articles from the Coaches

Coach Shem: A Beginners Guide to Triathlon Run Trying to figure out how to handle the triathlon run? Coach Shem has useful tips on how to train in order to improve your run performance – strength, leg speed and tolerance.  (more) Coach Vinnie:  Train Efficiently: The benefits of a routine With most age groupers facing the challenge of limited time, there aren’t many choices for training. The combination of a busy lifestyle and the aiming to improve at triathlon creates several benefits to following a base week for training. (more)

Profile: Stefan Leijdekkers  

Coach Woody on his athlete, Stefan and his road to Kona with a busy work schedule and young family.  Stefan also shares his history and thoughts on training with Kona as his goal. Qualified at Ironman Cairns 2014 – M40-45 /9hr32 /6th Place Ironman PB – 9.15 at IMWA 2013 (more)

Tri Gear: 2014 Tritop now available

ironguides has new sleek trisuit and bike jerseys available! Check the photos out below or download our catalogue for more details. 

Tritops ironguides coached athlete price 55 USD non coached athlete 75 USD

ironguides Brazil – Special Offer: New service with weekly training plans (in Portugese only)

For now these offers are only for our Portuguese speaking athletes, but we will soon launch this service globally. Service 1 – Ironman Fortaleza 20 week training plan ironguides in partnership with MundoTRI, Brazil’s biggest online magazine, are offering an exclusive training plan design for athletes taking part at Ironman Fortaleza on November 9th. The 20 week plan starts on monday, 23rd of June. Athletes will enjoy an exclusive article with tips on the course and specific workouts for the windy and hot day expected in Fortaleza. For more info, visit the training plan section on the mundotri website. More info here Service 2 – weekly training plans Now with weekly training plans, our monthly subscription online coaching service offers a tailored option to your goals at a price you can afford.  *Three distances (Ironman, Half Ironman & Short Course) *Three levels (beginner, intermediate, experienced) *Exclusive article from our brazilian Coach Rodrigo Tosta  *Online Support via the ironguides forum  *99BRL / month – no minimum commitment More information at our portuguese website: Short Course: Half Ironman: Ironman:

Training Camp: Swim Trek in Thailand

Join Coach Vinnie Santana for the ironguides Swim Trek series in the warm waters of paradisiac Thailand. The swim trek will increase your open water swim abilities, as you develop confidence, fitness, skills and get used to being in the ocean while enjoying a safe environment with our staff support paddling along in a kayak. If you are a triathlete, this will bring your swimming to a new level. Calendar: 20-21 September: Samet Island. More info 06-07 December: Railay Bay (Krabi). More info Prices starting from only 60USD

Coaching Service Offers

High Performance: Professional Racing If you’re an elite age grouper who’s aiming to move up to professional racing, or if you’re are already a Pro who’s keen to up their game and see improved results, then this is the option for you. Your ironguides Coach knows what it takes to train and compete at the highest level in the sport. You will benefit from ironguides’ first-hand development and guidance of ironman champions, as well as our experience with Olympic and Ironman World Champions. (more) I joined ironguides in late 2009 after I completed my first year as a pro. I had just moved to Switzerland then and started to work 4-5 hours a day, which let me pay my triathlon expenses. It was great to start working with my coach, as he could plan my training according to my work schedule, and he increased the quality of my training a lot, though I spent less time on my bike or running. Thanks to my swimming backgound, I never had a problem to get out the water with the first pack, but thanks to ironguides my bike splits improved a lot, and I was able to stay in the lead group during the whole bike leg and I was able to start the running in a fresher condition! This consistent work was not easy, but all was worth it as I claimed my first ever Ironman title in 2011 in Korea, and have become a steady Top-10 finisher in any Ironman or Ironman 70.3 races around the world.”

– Balazs Csoke, Professional Triathlete, Ironman Champion, ironguides Athlete

Event based: Olympic Triathlon The ironguides 12-week Olympic Distance Triathlon Training Manual provides all the information you need to successfully prepare for your next Olympic Distance Triathlon. It’s effective, efficient, safe and fun. Based on The Method. (more) “The 12-week plan is fantastic. I have made breakthroughs in all three disciplines, especially the swim — and I am not a beginner in the sport! … for so many seasons I was sucked into the Zone-based myth and was always overtrained when I hit the Build phases. Now, even though the program is demanding, I always feel rested. I have not had an injury nor felt weak or sick. My times are always improving and there are actually LESS rest days than the Zone-based training program. It’s amazing really!” Thyrio, ironguides Forum Monthly Subscriptions: Balanced Triathlon This plan is specific for those who want to maintain their gains made during the season, but also want to have a mental and physical rest from the daily demands of tri-training (more) Keegan Scott “I’ve always been self-coached but didn’t want the commitment of a coach while I was interested in following a structure that works. The subscription service is a great idea as I’m still able to train using The Method, while it fits my budget and gives me flexibility to change the focus from single discipline to the balanced programme as I progress into the season.”

Free eBook: ironguides’ Triathlon Secrets, a superb tri resource

Download ironguides’ free ebook Triathlon Secrets and discover the secrets of Olympic medalists and Ironman champions. Excerpts from Triathlon Secrets: … an obsession with data took hold of me and began to displace the spontaneous joy I used to experience in training… …The Method meant learning to read the body’s signals and knowing to trust one’s own intuitive understanding… …enables you to develop a broad feel for the workings of your body. Like life, training by The Method is a qualitative experience! …don’t waste time or energy readjusting to new, haphazard sessions and reconfiguring weekly schedules…

…train to maximum efficiency (for your situation) while optimizing recovery… [more]

In This Issue

Articles:  Articles from the Coaches    Profile: Stefan Leijdekkers Gear:  Tri Gear: 2014 tritop now available Offers:  ironguides Brazil – Special Offer: New services and plans (Portugese only) Training Camp: ironguides swim trek in Thailand  Coaching Service Offers   Free eBook: ironguides’ Triathlon Secrets

Website Refresh

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

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Ironman Melbourne Course Review

Ironman Melbourne Course Review 

by Vinnie Santana

The inaugural Ironman Melbourne proved one for the record books; a stacked field of professional

athletes, including several world champions, delivered a Sub-8 hour performance by Craig Alexander

and an oh-so-close Sub-8 for Cameron Brown, who finished second in an 8:00:12 personal best. Not to

be outdone, female winner Caroline Steffen crossed the line in 8:34:51, smashing her PB by about half

an hour; she is now the world’s second-fastest Ironwoman behind Chrissie Wellington.

I was fortunate enough to be down there supporting a group of athletes and witness the action

firsthand. Here are my tips for athletes considering taking part in this event in the coming years.

I would definitely recommend this race for first timers; it will certainly provide a fun experience and

conditions are relatively friendly, even in the very worst-case scenarios. Athletes seeking a Personal Best

will find this race their winning lottery ticket as it is a very fast course with all the components that help

speedy finish times: a wetsuit swim, cold weather, a flat bike and run, and swift competition.

The level of competition in Australian races is very high. Ironman Melbourne offers a great number of

slots to the World Championships in Kona (75 this year and next). However, be ready to perform at a top

level, i.e. high speed, if you are aiming to secure one since the combination of a fast course and strong

competition makes this one of the fastest qualifying courses on the ironman circuit.

One downside involves the logistics of having two transition zones that are 42km apart. This makes it

hard for supporters to follow the race, spreads the crowds on the run course which makes it relatively

lonely and quiet for the athlete, and requires a very early wake-up as athletes still need to commute

almost an hour to the start line in Frankston from the official hotel, and IM city, in St Kilda.

Finally, Melbourne is famous for offering all weather types in one day. Two days out from race day

it was extremely windy—the chop in the water was such that I imagine the swim would have been

cancelled if conditions had been the same on race day. If you plan to compete in Melbourne over the

next few years and the race remains around the same time of the year, bring gear for all conditions and

be ready for a blustery day, which may also impact equipment choice such as race wheels.


Be mentally prepared to swim in the dark and use goggles with clear lenses. By the time the swim starts,

the sun is not out yet. Most swimmers reported feeling lost during the first 10 minutes of the swim since

it starts parallel to the shore and the lights on stand-up paddleboards get mixed with lights from nearby

towns on the horizon. Find a pack to swim with so that it can help you navigate until the sun comes out.

Use a long-sleeve wetsuit as it helps protect you from the cold water and also will help you be warmer

when starting out on the bike.

Wetsuit swims put a strain on the shoulders that you want to simulate in training. Do sets with a

pullbuoy and paddles to mimic the extra flotation of the wetsuit with the increased strain on the

shoulders. Example as below:

Warm up, then do main set:

With pullbuoy and paddles do 1 to 3 times 1.2km as:

400m HARD – 10sec rest

400m moderate – 10sec rest

400m easy

2min rest between each 1.2km set

This session simulates race start; flat out for the first third (note: don’t use the wall to push off as you

don’t in the race either), then settle into a cruise pace for the second 400m, and then go easy in the last

400m to loosen up and recover for the next 1.2km set.


It’s a two-lap course on a highway, with the first half lap on a very light incline and likely headwind,

while the ride home is much faster on a slight downhill and with a tailwind. The inclines are gentle and

the course could be considered flat, except for a couple of aggressive downhill and uphill sections near a


Pacing is important as it is easy to overdo it on the first fourth of the course, and you want to

be mentally ready for a challenging section from 90km to 135km. To simulate course conditions

incorporate cadence variations on your long rides as per the example below:

On the back end of your long ride, add the following set:

2 hours moderate, alternating cadence as:

30min heaviest gear, if possible against the wind

30min at a 90+RPM cadence

This session will get your body and mind used to the different requirements of strength, muscle tension

and cadence on race day. Remain on your aerobars at all times.


The unusual point-to-point format can make the 42km rather lonely as there is limited crowd support on

parts of the run.

Expect a big variety of surfaces including roads, grass, gravel and trails by the beach, as well as a few

sharp twists and turns.

The gradient also varies. To simulate that, do part of your specific runs on rolling hills and learn how to

recover from running up a hill while you hold a moderate pace on the flat or downhill, as per the set


Hill repeats on the treadmill or road:

15min build warm-up, then:

[2min hard uphill (about 6-8%)

4min moderate on flat (keep the speed)

2min easy recovery flat/downhill if on roads]

Repeat the above 4 to 7 times

These workouts and information should give you the confidence that, even without having raced

Ironman Melbourne, know what to expect and how to prepare for it.

Enjoy your training.

Vinnie Santana – ironguides Coach, Bangkok

Vinnie Santana


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Meet the Ironcouple: Rafal & Alicja Medak

Meet the Ironcouple: Rafal & Alicja Medak

By Vinnie Santana, ironguides Coach – Bangkok.

The Ironman World Championships, Kona, shifted our focus to the training and racing of our qualified athletes. Among them were ironcouple Rafal and Alicja Medak. These Kona qualifiers have an inspiring story, especially when it comes to combining a successful (and demanding!) professional career as investment bankers, with high-performance training and racing.


Age: 38 (Alicja), 40 (Rafal)

Weekly work hours: 50-60

Location: London, UK

Relationship: Married – no kids

Weekly training: 14-20 hours

Coach: Vinnie Santana

Qualifying Race: Ironman UK

Rafal: 9h53 — 3rd M40-44

Alicja: 10h45 – 3rd F35-39

Training overview (Coach’s comments):

I started working with the ironcouple back in November 2010. Rafal was already familiar with The Method and our approach as he had been an ironguides athlete a while ago. He started triathlon training in 2005, while Alicja back then was only supporting and taking pictures. Alicja decided to learn to swim the front crawl and entered her first race in 2007, coming last out of the water but gaining plenty of ground after a decent bike and run to finish in the middle of the pack.

Alicja is a very talented athlete. But since she is relatively new to the sport, she had no experience in setting up a race (and training) strategy to suit her strengths and give her a better chance to achieve her goal (Ironman Hawaii slot). Our first step was to determine what course suits her best and where she should be spending most of her efforts come race day.

Rafal, on the other hand, had the experience and background, but was never able to nail the back end of his Ironman marathon, falling short of securing an Ironman Hawaii slot in his previous attempts. So that part of the race became our focus for him.

As in any new coach-and-athlete relationship, it took us a while to develop a deeper understanding on what were their strengths and weaknesses. Another worry was to keep them both relatively fresh and rested since their day jobs can be extremely demanding and stressful, with some intercontinental business trips here and there.

The first race was early in May at Ironman 70.3 St Croix. It was a disaster when it came to results, but great feedback on race strategy—we knew we wouldn’t be using that one ever again! The athletes stuck to the original goal, never doubted the coach’s strategy, and continued on their quest to the perfect race.


Then things started to fall in place at Ironman 70.3 Honu in June. We found what seemed to be a better race strategy, then tweaked it a bit before a half Ironman race on July 4 in the UK: the result was great. Right there we had found the strategy to be used at Ironman UK. The instructions were clear, “Just repeat it!”. On race day at Ironman UK, they both did a great job of executing the plan and we knew Kona slots would be only a consequence on how stacked the field would be that day.


What it Takes

The ironcouple approach comes down to a “No Excuses” mindset in their training. The two examples below are often shared with our high-performance athletes as a reality check of “This is the kind of athlete you will be racing against.”

– Rafal was on a weekend bike ride, got into a crash with a car—nothing too serious but it involved enough bruises and blood to leave anyone scared. He also had a cracked bike to boot. Rafal got home and, determined to complete his training, finished his session on his spare bike on the wind trainer.

– When the couple went to Italy for a training weekend, their Sunday long ride didn’t leave enough time to do the run they were supposed to do. They packed their gear, headed to the airport, checked their bags—and finished the brick run, running around the airport car park.

When you approach your training with the determination and willpower as Rafal and Alicja, come race day you are relaxed because your confidence couldn’t be higher. The ironcouple knew they did their best, and that their results would be only a consequence of training. Importantly, placing is something we tend not to worry about since we have no control over which other athletes choose to race as well.

For more information about the ironcouple and training via The Method, send an email to ironguides:

By Vinnie Santana

Vinnie Santana



* * * Your best is our business.™ * * *

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What to expect from the new Ironman in Fortaleza, Brazil

Our Head Coach and former professional triathlete Vinnie Santana shares with you the secrets of a course he knows well. While Ironman Fortaleza, Brazil, has only just been announced Vinnie won an Ironman-distance event in Fortaleza back in his professional racing days.




A second Ironman race in Brazil was announced this week: the location is Fortaleza in the north east of the country and the date is November 9, 2014. The new race was announced by Latin Sports and published by Brazilian triathlon website mundotri, the event management company that has been running Ironman Brazil since 2001.

I’ve raced and won an Ironman-distance event (non Ironman brand) back in 2006 and it was to this date the most difficult race I’ve done among some other challenging courses including Kona and Korea. The article below will help you understand what to expect and how to get ready for this brand-new Ironman event.

Unlike the current Ironman in Brazil in Florianopolis, you can expect a palm-tree, hot-weather, tropical-feel type of event. Be aware as well that Fortaleza and its neighbouring towns are known globally as one of the best kite-surfing spots in the world; in other words it translates to possibly the windiest ironman race on the planet.

Wind tunnel conditions with the temperature of a sauna, this is Ironman Fortaleza.

While those conditions may not be appealing for athletes who want to PB over the Ironman distance, if you understand how to make the most of them, you will have a great experience and may place ahead of many of your competitors, especially those who are better suited to cooler climate events in locations that are far less windy.

Experienced Athletes

If you are an experienced ironman triathlete, you can expect a total finish time that is about one hour slower than on the traditional faster courses, where the winners typically come in between 8h10 to 8h30

The race I won in Fortaleza in 2006, I took 9h47 and that was coming off an 8h52 only four months earlier at Ironman Brazil. Be very conservative with your goals regarding time improvements and PBs when coming to Ironman Fortaleza.

Which athletes will do well on this course?

A runner who can handle the heat. This will be the difference between a decent race and a great race. If you can run a fast marathon off the bike in Fortaleza without walking (except through aid stations), you will place you very nicely in your age group.

Being a decent swimmer will also be more relevant here than in other races since the water temperature will likely be too high for a wetsuit swim. On the bike, aerodynamics will be of a great importance due to the wind factor, especially when it comes to bike fit; being able to also generate a high power to weight ratio will be key in this race. Show up lean, fit and ready to handle tough conditions and you will do well.

Let’s look into each discipline in more detail below.

Kona Slots

If you are chasing an opportunity to qualify for Kona, and you fit the description above, this could be your ticket. Unlike most other, faster races where any mistake or mishap can cost you that Kona slot, in a race like Fortaleza this is more unlikely to happen since it’s not so much a matter of “racing the man” but more a “racing the course” type of event. You may have a slow swim, get a flat on the bike, but if you can pull out a fast marathon, you are still very well in contention for a Kona slot, especially as — typically — age group triathletes aren’t fast runners.

If your goal is a Kona slot, I suggest you ignore what your competition is doing and face this as an individual time trial. Take all decisions based on the goal of getting to the finish line as fast as possible, and be patient if you need to give up a few minutes at various points during the race if that means you will save another dozen later on.

Getting used to the heat  

Be careful when trying heat acclimation techniques. Understand that your main goal in training for this event is to be consistent — doing things like running at the hottest time of the day, or training indoors in cold-weather clothes may hurt your ability to stay consistent for days.

Also, your ability to handle heat is something that you don’t fully control. Some athletes are genetically gifted to handle the heat better than others, regardless of where you come from or train at.


If you are coming from overseas, there are a limited number of direct flights to Fortaleza but they are worth it, since flying from Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo can be challenging as you will need to stop in Brasilia and there are only so many flights at reasonable hours. It’s not uncommon to board flights in the very early morning hours (1-2am) in São Paulo to make it to Brasilia before you get to Fortaleza. Study your itinerary and options carefully.

When in Fortaleza, make sure your accommodation provides you air conditioning in all rooms as some of the hotels can be basic. Stay out of the sun and avoid running between 9am-5pm at all costs as that it will take a lot out of you. Instead, stay in the AC and run early or late in the day.


Likely a non-wetsuit swim, with very choppy waters. You may want to train specifically for those conditions both in terms of technique and fitness. We like to use traditional pull gear such as paddles, pullbuoy and ankle bands to add a higher strength load to swim training.

Technique wise, aim for a higher stroke rate and higher hands on your recovery, because this is the most efficient way to swim in choppy waters.


While the specific course hasn’t been announced, we can expect a lot of wind — it will be strong regardless of the direction. In terms of the course profile, it will be relatively flat with some rolling hills thrown into the mix but no major climbs.

I remember from the race I did back in 2006 that the last 40km were brutal with a very strong head wind and smaller climbs, — you want to be ready for all sort of conditions, ready to tap into your strength when the legs are already deeply fatigued.

Pacing also becomes an important part of the equation. If this will be a two-loop course, it’s unlikely the wind direction will change, so pay attention to what you deal with on the first lap and expect the effort to increase on the second lap.

In training, you will need to do a lot of strength work pushing big gears, both at the end of your long sessions and also throwing in smaller sets in the middle of your rides, to simulate the conditions of the race.

It’s important to learn how to ride with all cadences since you want to maintain a good momentum both in a tailwind and headwind situation.

Road conditions can be very, very rough!

Choose your equipment carefully, especially those that can impact you negatively in windy conditions, such as disc wheels. I wouldn’t be surprised if the organizers decide to ban the use of discs on race day. I would also recommend you ignore all wind tunnel recommendations when it comes to hydration and go with what will allow to best stay fueled: I used a Camelbak in 2006 and it was a great choice!


Your goal for this marathon is to slow down the least! Your training and race day strategy should be based on that.

Walk every aid station to make sure you get enough fuel and electrolytes — a few seconds lost in each of those stations may save you several minutes if it helps you avoid bonking.

Aim to run with a faster stride rate, a more efficient technique in warmer conditions that will bring slower marathon times. If you can do a quick shuffle, you will build a “bonk-proof” run style.

Be also careful with your run training: doing a lot of speed work, while it does build general fitness, is not too specific and won’t help much on race day, the priority of your training should go to where it really matters for this day, as listed in this article.

And finally, be very patient on race day: while the course conditions will be extremely challenging, this also creates a great opportunity for those that can understand and play with it!

Vinnie Santana
Vinnie Santana, Head Coach
* * * Your best is our business.™ * *

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Triathlon training with diabetes — What is different to non-diabetics: Rest days and rest periods

When it comes to certain aspects of training, diabetics needs to be aware that “we are different”, and the normal approach doesn’t apply.


Days off or resting phases is one of those situations. At our training plans, we don’t schedule days off unless there is any specific situation with each individual, with our approach you should be training every day, and let the days off comes naturally, be it for a professional or social commitment, or if you feel just too tired on any specific day(s), for those situations is OK to take the rest.

And how does this differs for Diabetics athletes? Why can’t it be just the same?

If the diabetic athlete trains everyday, to a point that he is forced to take a day off, that means this athlete was training hard or long enough to really create a huge insulin sensibility, than out of a sudden, you take the day off, only sit on the coach and have a few extras snacks.

This is aggressive for your body to handle, and your blood glucose levels won’t be very stable at all, since in a matter of a day, you are shifting a healthy/fit routine, to the couch potato one. Is very likely that for the later meals of that day, you will require more insulin than the usual, and is likely that you will need more insulin over night, or your blood glucose levels will be fairly high in the morning after, which creates that tired feel, and you think you need one more day off, and this can get very hard to get out.

How to handle the deep fatigue then? Active Recovery!

If you are into a consistent training routine, one training session, seven times a week, you will be way better by taking 2-3 easy days, than a complete day off. The active recovery workout only needs to be 20-30min long, if possible, include some short 20sec all out effort to work on your hormonal balance and increase metabolism (which helps insulin sensivity), stick to the diet you are used to, don’t overeat thinking that the extra calories will restore your glycogen stores, as with the reduced training and the usual diet, you will be carboloading anyways, no need to force it.

Then after 2-3 days of very easy training, see if you can get back into your plan, focus on getting the volume done first, then slowly build up the intensity to normal levels.

Other than keeping your blood glucose levels down, this approach has also benefits for the non-diabetic athlete. You get something done every day, this avoids the athlete to make up for the lost sessions, as highly motivated athletes are likely to train harder after a forced day off.  You also keep your metabolism high, avoid that bloated feel, and stay loose, which makes easier for your return into the plan, then once you are settle into it, avoid to get into that deep fatigue level again.


Taper is nothing else than freshening up for a race. You can do it in many diffent ways:

1) Reduce training intensity
2) Reduce training volume
3) Decrease training frequency (session per week)
4) Taking extra days off
For diabetics, this order is exactly what you should do for your taper. You should be able to taper based on #1 and #2 until 3 days out of race day, then you can do less sessions, especially if the race requires tapering, and of course, as always, avoid the days off, even a 15min easy jog is much better than completely rest.

For that reason, since you can’t have an aggressive resting period, you might want to start your taper a little bit earlier, we usually do a 2 week taper, so for diabetics athletes, I would recommend starting reducing intensity with 2 ½ week to your race day.

All in all, just make sure you don’t follow general training guidelines that you feel are not right for diabetics, as a diabetic, you are different, and requires a different training approach, let your coach knows all the ins and outs of diabetes and don’t be afraid to create something that works specifically for you, but is not “right” in terms of conventional approach, since you are different in a way!



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Triathlon Training with Diabetes: Tapering and Insulin dosage

Have you ever noticed how you feel sluggish when you are tapering on race week? Even with a reduced load, you feel tired all the time, hungry and that create a huge self doubt if you are fit enough for the race or you won’t get enough time to rest.


Why does that happens?


When we switch into ‘taper’ mode after a long period of consistent training, we make a journey from one state of physicality into another. What is happening is that your body is moving from “fight” mode into “heal” mode. The training systems that were on fire are shutting down because you are no longer subjecting your body to the physical training (stress) stimuli.


This change means that the balance of hormones in your body is changing. The level hormones secreted to sustain your high levels of physical exertion during training is dropping, while the level of “restoration” hormones is increasing. This change translates to a sensation of fatigue in the body.


One of those hormones that are changed is insulin. You were training hard and long, your muscles cells were always on the need of glycogen, it means that a tiny amount of  insulin, was enough to refill your cells.


But as you decrease training hours and intensity, you will need more insulin to cope with the ratio of grams of carbohydrate & units of insulin.


Basically, I had to use 3 times more insulin on the day before a race, compared to what I was using on normal training days. Of course that to realize that, I had many pre-race Saturdays of high blood glucose levels, it took me a few tapers to understand what was happening with me, why I needed so much more insulin for the same size and sort of meals.


The basal insulin mentioned below is above is supposed to cover only the sugar that is released by your liver during the day and night. The healthy athlete produces only one sort of insulin, while most diabetics that are not in an insulin-pump treatment, are on 2 or more types of insulin. On the top o the basal insulin, that I injected myself every night I had to take a “bolus”, that is, a super fast-acting insulin that would cover all my meals.


The numbers are scary, here are some examples:


  • Units of Basal Insulin and blood glucose released by your liver.

–I needed 10 units per day in normal training days


–For a race on Sunday, I would need to increase this

number by Wednesday to Friday up to 20 units (100%)


–As I usually take a day off on Friday, by Saturday, my insulin reception was so poor, that I would take up to 30 units of ‘basal’ insulin (that’s 3 times more than the normal!!!)


  • Units of fast-acting insulin and Grams of Carbs:

–A normal breakfast with ~100g of carbs, required 5 units of “fast-acting insulin”, that was usually after my first training session in the morning (more about timing of meals coming out soon!)


–The same 100g of carbs in the morning before the race, required up to 16 units of fast-acting insulin.



Remember that for your next taper. Don’t over eat, as your body is already under a huge load and hormonal change, rest properly, sleep well and let your muscles get full replenished with CHO for the race day.



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Triathlon Training with Diabetes: Stress, Adrenalin, Insulin and blood glucose levels

No, those are not butterflies in your stomach when you toe the line at a triathlon start and are waiting for the gun — that is one of the symptoms from adrenaline: when one is nervous, blood is pulled away from the stomach and sent into the muscles.


Adrenalin is a “fight” hormone, and plays a central role in the short-term stress reaction. It is released from the adrenal glands when danger threatens or in an emergency. Such triggers may be threatening, exciting, or environmental stressor conditions such as a triathlon start!

When secreted into the bloodstream, it rapidly prepares the body for action in emergency situations. The hormone boosts the supply of oxygen and glucose to the brain and muscles, while suppressing other non-emergency bodily processes (digestion in particular). This reduced blood flow, in turn, causes the stomach to temporarily shut down.

Adrenaline has the opposite effect of insulin.  The resulting rise in blood sugar enables the fermentation of glucose in the muscles. Adrenaline furthermore reinforces these effects, because it increases the secretion of glucagon (a hormone with the same effects as adrenaline) and decreases the release of insulin.

As a diabetic, I had no natural insulin to counter-effect this process when I was racing (who doesn’t get nervous before a triathlon anyway?), so it took me many races of super high blood glucose levels to really understand that no matter how low my sugar leves were BEFORE THE START, once I was on the bike, it had skyrocketed!! There were a few times that my glucometer read “HI”  — that means the levels were so high that the meter couldn’t read it.

Once I was 100% sure this wasn’t a one-off process, I started to give myself a huge amount of insulin as soon as I jumped on the bike — to be more precise, eight (8) units of fast-acting insulin, more than enough to cover 120grams of carbohydrate in a “normal” situation. Now if you are diabetic you understand why it took me so many races of high glucose levels to be confident enough and inject 8u of insulin before even testing that. Outside of racing it would have killed me or at best, put me in a hypoglycemia coma (no sugar available for the brain).

Once with this part figured out and controlled, I got into that “steady-state” in pacing where I had no more pre-start tension and was focused on the race; my blood levels were not affected my adrenalin anymore and I could go back to my good old “calories VS insulin” combination.

And what can the “non-diabetic” learn from this?

— Race start: Don’t over do it in the gels and sports drinks. Even if your sugar level is low, it will raise some in those last 5 minutes before the race start. I remember when I first started racing, I use to wear a Heart Rate monitor, 130bpm while just there, standing waiting for the start, wasn’t a surprise.

— First few minutes on the bike: DO NOT EAT – No calories at all, not even sports drinks or energy gels, not only there is very limited blood that will access your stomach at this stage to digest and absorb anything, but since capillaries in arms are open and in legs are closed, your heart is forced to work hard to pump to legs. Start the bike EASY (VERY EASY if in an ironman) for the first few minutes to let capillaries in arms shut down and legs open up; blood sugar get stable, adrenalin loses effect, then eat/drink.

Be aware of your hormones, race faster!



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Challenge Laguna Phuket Course Review


Learn by doing! Join our next ironguides The Method training camp in Phuket 2-3 November, 2013 — Clich HERE for more info.

Video from ironguides Phuket Training Camp in 2012

The traditional Laguna Phuket Triathlon, is a well-known event among triathletes based in Asia. It provides a mix of a destination race on the beautiful island of Phuket combined with the challenges of a middle distance course with heat and hills, add to that a party atmosphere and you have a very unique race.


Back in 2010 the organizers have announced an Ironman 70.3 event on the following weekend of the traditional race. This has added spice to the event as now beginners can step up and try the half ironman distance, and this year the race will become a “Challenge” event, same course as an Ironman, but from different organizers and branding. Challenge has a better reputation within the athletes.


Swim (1.9km)

Apart from being one hundred meters longer, the swim lay out is exactly the same as the Laguna Phuket Triathlon.


A beach-run start is always a fun way to begin a race. However, unless you are trying to place in your age group, take this run relatively easy: otherwise you will spike your heart rate and it will take a couple of hundred meters in the water to catch your breath.


The first half of the swim is held in the beautiful waters of Bangtao Beach. There are usually no currents and waves which makes the first part of the swim relatively easy.
Then you run another 100 meters across the beach to dive into the resort’s lagoon. This is a challenge since the ocean water has a higher density than the lagoon (or a swimming pool), so there is a sinking feeling for the first few hundred meters of the next swim section.

You can simulate this change in training with the following swim set:

Choice warm-up
[3x100m hard with the pull buoy – 10sec rest
3x100m hard without pull buoy – 10sec rest
2x100m very easy recovery – 60sec rest]
X2-3 (do the set above two or three times, depending on your experience)

Swimming with a pull buoy helps you float better. It also changes your balance and technique in the water. When you take the pull buoy off and do another several hundred meters of repeats at race-pace effort, you will feel the difference in terms of how high you are in the water—exactly the same way you feel when you switch from the ocean to the lagoon in the Phuket swim!

Bike (90km)
Once done with the swim, the transition is very straightforward and simple. You will be directed to the mounting line. The bike course is well marked and safe (for Thailand’s standards anyways).
Describing the course can be a challenge. We can’t say it is hilly, since you spend most time on flats or very gentle undulations, however we can’t also consider it flat, as there are two sets of short but very steep hills, the first one is around the 40km mark, while the last set is at the 75km mark, each set of hills last for almost 5km and the downhill’s are just as steep.


It is very common to see athletes walking while pushing their bikes up these hills. To avoid that, you want to have a large cassette (i.e. 27+) or compact cranks.

In terms of fitness, here are two ways to improve your climbing abilities. The first is by climbing more! If you have access to hills, do hill repeats at a hard effort. If you live in a flat area, you can get stronger by riding in a very low cadence, and doing intense and short repeats. You are basically doing leg presses on the bike. See the set below:

Choice warm-up
10-20x [1min at 40 to 50 cadence HARD RESISTANCE / 1min VERY EASY recovery]
Choice cool-down

You can also do the set above at the end of a long bike ride, since it will be very specific to race day.

Run (21km)
It’s a very straightforward run, mostly on the golf course. The golf course’s undulations are not significant. The only special consideration for this course is the terrain, as the mix of grass and dirt road makes it a bit slower compared with a hard surface.


It is important to focus on a very high stride rate and learn how to build your effort as you progress into the run, and to prepare for this we suggest the following set:

Long Run – 90 minutes negative split as:

30 minutes easy at 90 steps per minute

30 minutes moderate at 92+ steps per minute

30 minutes hard at 96+ steps per minute

Since many Asia-based triathletes live in big cities, make lemonade out of lemons by using the treadmill for the set above because it is an excellent training tool. How does a treadmill contribute so much to improved run skills?

In basic terms, running on a flat treadmill enables you to run at the same aerobic load as you do on land, but to run at a faster pace for that aerobic load. Meaning: You can run faster for longer, which means you are training neuromuscular patterns to fire at a rate that equates to a faster run pace. The aerobic training component in either case is the same.

Running at a high cadence is a very specific triathlon technique that focuses on efficiency. You also want to use a mid-foot strike, which helps to achieve the faster stride rate. Ideally you want to run at 90+ steps per minute (counting one foot only). The above session will challenge you with fast sections at 96 steps per minute.


You also want to get used to aiming for a negative split, which means picking up the effort as you progress into the run.

These tips should give you a good idea for the challenges you will face in Phuket.
Enjoy your training.


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