Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Making of a Killer Ironman Marathon split – Part 2

In my last blog entry I detailed some of the logic around my subjects quality running training (roughly a 14week period) leading into the specific 10week race phase of the ironman preparation.
In this blog I will give some detail of how to bring the leg sports (bike and run) training in the race phase all together to achieve that high finish come race day.
At the completion of the run phase, our subject should present with good leg strength, and the ability to hold high average run speed over extended distances. Completion of a 10km run TT post phase is always a good indicator of form. This also helps to set run training paces going into the next phase.
The next phase run wise is about maintaining those speed gains and further developing strength and endurance for the marathon.
For a couple of seasons now I have been setting a weekly 20-25min fartlek run immediately after a short bike set in race phase to some effect. In this midweek brick, the bike set is purposely not a depletion session and would involve working the athlete’s anaerobic capacity with short high intensity intervals and lots of rest. I have found this race run specific set very effective in both maintaining run speed gains and also teaching the athlete to find run rhythm earlier off the bike.
This variable paced run session, which incorporates sudden speed changes and sustained high intensity running perfectly complements the other more strength based midweek run sessions that make up the weekly schedule.
The more strength based mid-week run sessions which can also apply to bike sessions are based around developing the athlete’s leg strength and condition. They help the athlete to maintain higher average speeds for longer and also to absorb foot fall shock under duress later in the Ironman, during the marathon.
For example - include sustained efforts of around 80-85%mhr for 30-45minutes, or slightly longer durations for efforts with recoveries in between. These can be done on flat courses or if the athlete is stronger and not injury prone, can be run on hillier circuits.
AND finally to weekend run training – Firstly to the run after a long ride, as we are in race phase, short runs of around 25-40mins off long rides are great at helping the athlete find rhythm early off the bike. Finding your running rhythm early after the bike will see you running faster earlier in the marathon when you are most fresh. This can see you make significant gains on your competition.
NOTE - I don’t see any need in completing massive long bike rides and then tacking on a long run after, on a regular basis. This type of training just overly fatigues and stops you training quality for days after.
Last but not least is the long run! – It’s the most important run session of them all. Don’t skimp on it, depending on ability, regular weekly runs of 2:00hrs to 2:30hrs underpin your running training. They help you develop into an efficient running machine. These can be run at easy aerobic right up to solid sustainable intensities. BUT if in doubt, go long and easy with this session, it’s the time on your legs which is important.
Note These insights above are quite broad and apply to a certain athletic ability. Completing low intensity training almost exclusively on the run definitely can have its place with athletes new to running and the marathon.
Looking at an Ironman event, as you progress through each leg, you gradually become more fatigued. So time lost with a poor performance becomes more magnified as you progress through the day. In the marathon it is most evident, and you should aim to go in with lots of leg strength and endurance. The quality running you did coupled with endurance training will see you running a faster marathon off the bike.
Be very clear about the purposes of each of your training phases going in to your prep. Why am I doing this and what outcomes do I hope to achieve? Consistently completing these ideal sessions over time will see a more consistent performance come race day over all legs of the ironman.
One final tip – slow means slow, if you are recovering between efforts or told to run easy, run easy. Running at say 75-79%mhr when you shouldn’t be won’t help you one bit. It’s too slow to make you fast, but it’s too fast to help you recover.
Ride for show, run for dough.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Are you wanting to qualify for Worlds in 2015?

ITU Duathlon Team

ITU Chicago Team 
Ironman 70.3 Austria Team

Fluid Movements will get you there and ensure you have a great race

At the ITU Worlds in Edmonton Canada 2014, Fluid won 2 Gold Medals in both the Sprint and Standard distance races

 At the 70.3 Worlds Mt. Tremblant Canada, Fluid athletes again won Gold and Silver medals


In 2014/15, Squad athletes will again be fully supported throughout the qualifying process this Summer season for Chicago, Adelaide or Salzburg. Once qualified, athletes will have access to a proven Squad Worlds performance program under Fluid’s Performance Level Head Coach, and Ex Professional Ironman Sean Foster

All abilities are catered for.

 Contact Coach Sean now at or on 0421 020 805   
Fluid Movements is the official event Coaching partner for these qualifiers and will be in support all weekend at these events

Yarrawonga Multisport Festival – Victoria’s only Standard distance qualifier for Chicago
Ballarat and Geelong 70.3’s – Qualifiers for Austria 70.3


Monday, September 15, 2014

The Making of a Killer Ironman Marathon split – Coaches ramblings

I have a number of Ironmen in various pre Ironman specific development stages, based on their upcoming aims and training history for Melbourne 2015. One of those IM’ers has a solid IM marathon run track record, with a 3:13hr and 3:18hr respectively at Melbourne 2012/13 and a 3:08hr and change at Hawaii 2012.

I have been set the challenge of dropping the run time to around 3:00hrs for Melbourne 2015. Based on his swim and bike ability there will be a couple of ways to tackle this coaching challenge.

Firstly, he is an OK swimmer, round the hour, and he is a strong biker. Looking holistically as one must being a Triathlon coach, a key aim will be to improve his swimming, so he comes out of the water nearer to the front of the field. Looking to drop his swim time to closer to 55-57mins, this will mainly achieved through efficiency gains through stroke correction in the pool.

If I can see these gains over the coming 6months, we should be sitting pretty coming onto the bike. He can ride 4:50hrs till the cows come home, so the trade-off is do I try to develop more bike power and aim for a 4:43-4:45hr bike or is it better to maintain bike speed so we can emphasise the run leg this far out from the race.

The answer is YES. Set up the event with an improved swim, maintain his race position on the bike, and purely via fitness gains from the completion of another Ironman training template will see him ride an ‘easier’ 4:50hrs. This will see him off the bike and then on way to a hopefully much improved marathon.  IM Tip – Ride the IM bike leg ‘fast/easy’ when it comes to race pacing.

OK, how do we run a 3:00hr marathon?

This has to be the hardest thing to achieve for the vast majority of athletes and coaches who guide them. It’s not so hard, and we see it over and over, looking awesome coming into T2, and bombing on the marathon to finish way back.

Our subject here has a big engine and a lot of staying power. Overconcentration on endurance development and strength, something that he has nearly maxed out on would be a mistake. I have set a path of two 6 to 7week blocks; one will be leading up to his Challenge Shepparton race where I will concentrate on developing half marathon run speed.
The other block will go from mid November to mid January where 10k run speed will be the aim of his quality run sessions. Of course this will be underpinned by endurance maintenance longer easier runs, but also FAST long runs at upper tempo intensity.

The balancing act will be because I am adding 2-3 extra quality runs into each of his 3week training blocks from now, there must be a trade- off. This may involve reduction in specific intensity of 1 or 2 bike sessions in this block, but I am confident that he will maintain his bike power, and the added fitness and conditioning gains from his run training will transfer to the bike.

At any rate, once I take him into the race phase end of January, there will be rebalancing of quality training between bike and run. This should have him tip top come March to unleash a killer run split.

We’ll see ;)

Coach Foz

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Swimming and Breathing - What to think about by Neroli Nixon

Blog post from Fluid Movements Development Swim Coach : Neroli Nixon
Her credentials
1992 AUSSI Masters Swim Coach of the Year Award
2000 Australian Sports Medal for services to swimming and in 2001
Australian Age group Silver Medallist(200 Butterfly)
Australian Open Age Gold Medallist (400 Individual Medley), Bronze Medallist (200 Butterfly and 800 Freestyle)
Qualified to swim at the 1976 and 1992 Olympic Trials in Australia
National Masters Title and Record holder in all strokes and distances and World Masters Title and Record holder in Butterfly and Breaststroke.


Learning to breathe for swimming is paramount to an athlete’s improvement in the water.

How much do I have to breathe in and how much or hard do I have to blow out? Are you gasping for air and feeling there is none? Are you breathing every two strokes?  And if so, where is your cheat? Where do you get an extra breath when you need one?  What is your breathing pattern and what is it doing to your swimming technique?

Find your stroke rhythm through your breathing pattern.  One, two, will just not do!!  Three, four – now we are getting there.  Count those hand entries – hear your count by saying it out aloud.  One, two, three, four, breathe, one, two, three, four, breathe and so on.  Breathing every two strokes to just one side will create a muscular imbalance in the body.  As open water swimmers we need to learn to breathe to both sides, not just bilaterally, but consistently to the left and to the right.  Water and weather will dictate which side we breathe to.

You only need breathe in as much as you are going to breathe out.

But I can't breathe every 4!  Yes you can! A stroke count must be heard to be maintained.

Breathing for swimming is your first thought and action.  Before we start, from the wall, from a standing start, from a deep-water start, we breathe in and then we submerge.  We streamline into a swimming position, kick (yes we do!), we stroke and then we breathe, and then what? We exhale so we can breathe again.  Count for exhalation - speak aloud, because it will make you exhale!  Counting out aloud allows the swimmers to exhale to a pattern, to stroke with a length and a pace.

Practicing a four count, left and right sides to equal value, allows the swimmers to lay flat in the water and create a rhythm.  It will give the swimmer time to see and feel the stroke happening beneath and above them.  There is only so much of the stroke that the swimmer can actually see, yet by practicing a rhythmic count the swimmer has time to tune in to the drills and skills required for a good swimming stroke. 

The swimmer will become proficient at mouth exhalation and now that the ‘breathe holding’ pattern is broken the swimmer can practice different and more extended breathing patterns:

Breathing 2, 4, 6, 8 or 3, 5, 7, 9
Breathing left side and right side and bilateral
Tumble turns

A very simple tactic for breathing practice in cold water is to speak into the water.  It is so hard to exhale when placing your face down into the cold water, so speak.  Say the word – breathe – and the lift your head, sight and take a breath.  Place your face in the water and say it again – breathe.

Backstroke requires a breathing pattern so as not to inhale water through the nose.  Breathe in through the mouth and out through the mouth.

Breaststrokers exhale as the kick drives the body forward into a streamline position.

Butterflyers generally breath in on one stroke and out on the next. 

What is your breathing pattern?  What do you think about while swimming?  There is no social communication when you are face down in the water, it is you, yourself, your own company, you!  Talk to yourself – no one will hear you J

Neroli's next article will be to do with body position and sculling.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fluid Movements Most Successful Ever Worlds Results.

As a coach, its with great pleasure that I report on how our teams fared at a series of Triathlon World Championship events over the previous 10day period.
A positive outcome of our coaching methods has always been our ability to prepare athletes to a high standard in all distances of Triathlon, from Sprint, Standard, 70.3 and through to Ironman. Getting them to the Worlds stage is one thing, but seeing them be successful at this level is another.

This year was no different to any other, Fluid had representatives in the ITU Sprint, Standard World Championships, and also at the 70.3 Worlds. These events have now been completed with the big dance at the Ironman Worlds in Hawaii still to come with 4squad athletes competing.

Our Sprint and Standard Teams
We always have a mix of relatively new athletes that are racing overseas for the first time and more experienced campaigners. One of our seasoned athletes Ken Murley who had previously won an age world title in the Sprint had qualified for three distances this year. Another athlete Jenny Zenker who has trained with us for a couple of years was racing in the 70.3 Championships in Mt Tremblant.

As always its a tough, long road preparing through our Melbourne Winter. Lots of relentless early starts and late finishes week after week, seeing each other more than our own families. Luckily our Worlds athletes and coaches always gel well together with this common goal. A real camaraderie develops when you train together up to 10times a week and we help each other to stay focused for the 20+weeks of the prep.

In the days leading up I had a feeling that this group could produce some great performances. That's a bit unusual for me as I am fully aware that the level of completion at Worlds is so much tougher than domestically, and I never want to get ahead of myself as a coach.
We had had some tough times with some injury and illness through the prep, but that's expected and they were all were coming good at the right time.
Friday 29th August, the day arrived for the Sprint competition in Edmonton Canada. We had 3 athletes race, and in Melbourne we were all trying to stay up to watch the live feed online. I ended up falling asleep as they were on the run, but woke to many Facebook updates that Ken had won the World title by a margin of 5minutes, and that Jan and Tom had had great races with PB's.
We were all so excited and buzzing with the news at morning training a few hours later, and our thoughts after congratulations immediately turned to our guys racing the Standard distance 3days later.

Our 70.3 team
We had our newly crowned champ Ken Murley racing again, plus Vanessa Jackson and David Ferrier. The anticipation seemed to make the days drag on for so long between Friday and Monday for me, as it was pretty clear by the Sprint result that they were all in form and I just wanted them to start.
The day arrived and once again all of our squad were burning the midnight oil watching in darkened rooms around Melbourne. In an astonishing performance Ken wins again in the Standard race by a whopping 10minutes. Vanessa has a great race to finish top ten in her age group and David performs really well in his age after a heavy week of commitments as the National president of our sport.
There was lots of amazed reactions on social media, at training and at Edmonton to Ken winning the two championships he had competed in. We were all very proud of this great achievement.

The circus of athletes and supporters from all around the world now descended on Mt Tremblant Canada for the 70.3 World Championships which were 6days later. Fluid had 2 athletes, Ken Murley and David Ferrier backing up after the Standard distance in Edmonton to now race the 70.3 event in Quebec. Levi Hauwert, Anna Moore and Jenny Zenker had flown in to join them, and spirits were high amongst the team of 5 Fluid athletes after the great success of the week before.
Ken addressing the Aussie team

Now minor celebrity, Ken was asked to give a speech to the Aussie contingent at the welcoming breakfast. This was a bit of an honour and a recognition of his efforts so far ,and supposedly it was quite entertaining!
The days breezed past for our athletes, and in no time bikes were checked in and it was race eve. It was on late Sunday Melbourne time, and an ever growing army of supporters were glued to their screens to see how they would all go. 
Jenny was first off and we were keen to see how she went, she has dynamite swim and bike speed.  Jenny was out within a minute of the leaders and onto her bike which she was very strong at. Ken was 4th out of the water in his swim, 6minutes down but had monstered his competitors in the shorter events on the bike so was hoping for a fast ride also from him. Anna, David and Levi had solid swims and were also on their way.
The excitement for me was how they all rode, it was late, but I was up checking and comparing speeds at each checkpoint.
They were all riding very fast, Ken was an amazing 4km/hr quicker over the first split than his closest competitor, Jenny was quickest, Levi was flying and David and Anna were holding their own.
By the end of the bike, both Ken and Jenny had hit the lead in their categories. Now it was just down to the run.
Once again I had nodded off and woke up just after Jenny had finished. Agonisingly Jenny had lead most of the run but was just pipped by 25seconds for gold and took the silver. Her age group was easily the fastest in the females and Jenny swam and rode nearly the same splits as the top pro women. Ken destroyed them on the bike with a bike time at the finish none of his competitors could believe, and held them on the run  to win the 70.3 World title by 20minutes.
Levi had a great bike and just ran out of legs within the last 5k of the run, Anna sucked up the experience of her first overseas race and smiled all day, finishing strongly and David did a great job and killed it all the way to the line, putting the week before him well behind.

Ken and Jenny receiving their medals
I as a coach was so proud of every one of our team in each event. Ken won 3 World Titles, in the Sprint, Standard distance and the 70.3, I think this is the first time this has ever been done. Jenny took second in the world to cap of an amazing week for the Fluid Movements Triathlon program and myself as a coach. Our squad took 2 of the 6podiums for Australia at Mt Tremblant.

Just to finish off, in true hard ass Kenny style, after the race I let ken know via Facebook that he had beaten a guy that was unbeatable in 70-74 long course racing from Canada. He had also won the 70-74 age group at the Hawaii Ironman last year. Kens response 'Yes, they told me after the race he has been unbeatable. I told them I didn't know who he was and I really didn't care.' Classic Kenny. I hear Kenny wants to race Kona in 2015, stay tuned.

What a week!! Now we set our sights on The Big Dance at the Hawaii Ironman in October. Cant wait to see our team race there.

Coach Foz

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sprint and Ironman Training - Don't limit yourself.

Pulling on the Green and Gold
As a coach of the Worlds / Development squads at Fluid Movements I am in the thick of race season with my Worlds rep athletes.

2014 World Sprint / Standard Champion
Ken Murley 
Last week we had the Edmonton ITU World Champs where we had 3-4athletes race in the sprint and standard events. We were lucky enough to have Ken Murley come away with a gold medal and World title in each event, our other athlete’s equipped themselves very well in their first overseas competitions.
Now this week we have 5athletes competing at the 70.3 Worlds in Mt Tremblant Canada. I am very excited about their chances for a high finish as they are all in excellent shape. It can be an eerie feeling as my work with them is complete, nothing more I can do other than fine tuning a race strategy by online correspondence.

Once Mt Tremblant is complete I look towards our final big event, the Hawaii Ironman World Championships. We have a number of athletes competing in Kona and they will be leaving our shores soon to heat acclimatise.
So as a team you can see we have been very busy with athletes representing their country in all distances of Triathlon

Pride in Diversity
As you can see from above, at Fluid we take a lot of pride in our ability to develop successful athletes in all distances, not just sprint or not just Ironman. As a team, we never want to be pigeonholed as one or the other, and feel we have been pretty successful over a long period of time over all distances.

Jenny and Anna at 70.3 Worlds
Mt Tremblant, Canada
In my Triathlon career, I started late in the piece, pretty green as a reasonable swimmer with no bike experience and some school running. Did a few years of sprint where I finally won the local Sports Plus series (now Gatorade). Then I went on to represent Australia at ITU Age Worlds in the Olympic Distance race in Lausanne.  Then I stepped up to a half ironman to qualify (yes you used to have to) for Ironman Australia in my first full distance.  I was lucky enough to eventually race professionally at that distance for 4years and enjoy good success.
You learn a lot from your own experiences, and under the tutelage of my coach and having being exposed to long periods of high level training and racing over all distances, I came to realise that each discipline can learn a lot from how the other trains.
There should be none of that ‘Oh you do sprint so you therefore must train high intensity workouts, or you do Ironman so it should be all about long slow distance.’ High quality workouts well above Ironman race intensity have their place in any successful IM program, and long slow distance also has its place in quality sprint programs.
KK, Joey and myself with legend Mark Allen
when we competed in Hawaii
The key point to remember is, ‘you are how you train’ so don't limit yourself to one methodology. Have some diversity in your training program that compliments your individual abilities and goals. It is all about what and when to include different training methods within a preparation phase, and how far out from race day.
With that in mind, I can’t wait to see how our team goes at Canada this Sunday and at Kona Hawaii in just over 5weeks.
Stay tuned, and happy training
Coach Foz