Saturday, November 28, 2015

Triathlon Sprint Racing Season - back into it in Victoria

I certainly picked a great day to do my first sprint event in years. A group of old warriors from 80's triathlon chose to make their comebacks and race this event in their own wave, namely the Old Hands Triathlon group. They were some big names in their day and seeing them out there brought out some old faces and memories.

I racked my bike pre race, and across from me low and behold was one of my first ever bike sponsors Robin Tullett (Triathlete bike store) from back in 1998. Robbie was a great athlete himself back then and looked as fit as ever, which wasn't surprising as he has always kept himself in good nick.
Pre race

I got all my pre race duties done at our club tent, then found a quiet spot to don the wetsuit. Wasn't nervous at all and excited about getting it on come race time. So on schedule walked to the start line about 15mins prior to my age group start.
I had a number of my athletes that weren't racing doing their session along the course, and i think they had the impression i would go well. I didn't want to make excuses so didn't try to talk their expectations down. I have never really excelled as a sprinter, my strength was long course and my race speed varied minimally from a Sprint to a 70.3.
Got a great start considering my swimming has been a little amiss lately in the training pool. i tried to temper my effort over the first 200m, as i knew id pop if i went out at my usual pace. Found some feet and settled in behind a guy who was weaving through the remnants of the wave ahead with panache. i liked his style!
Coming out of the water

Coming into the beach did a couple of duck dives and was on the sand. i heard our unofficial squad photographer Jan Dean call out some encouragement but didn't have the energy to acknowledge her as my heart was in my mouth. Think i was third out of the water in 45-49 and i knew there would be some stiff competition with alot of ex champions from back in the day turning up to do this event. I managed to compose myself enough for some trash talk, coz as i was running to my rack in T1, the leader in my age group Grant Gilbert was was a bit of a gun had managed to drop his goggles in front of me, having to run back to get them (must have been exe ;) ) i gave him a bit of a rev up by yelling there goes your lead..... he gave me nothing in return. Touche'!
Onto the bike, clean mount and out of the saddle to get up to speed. 2laps of 10kms on the bike, and we had a slight cross-tail wind helping on the ways out and the opposite on the return. My wave was 15mins in so the road was pretty clear on lap one. I gunned it for about 5km then settled a bit and brought up the cadence as i knew there would be headwind to come. I rode solid, the little bike tweak pre race i did nearly had me dialed in, but was a bit long in the top tube on the into the wind sections; note to self for the next race. I managed to not get passed on the bike and alot of the second lap i was yelling rider back and having the squeeze past 2-3riders wide. Gained some real energy from the crowd near the end of each lap which was nice and was clean coming into T2 with no hiccups on the dismount.
Running in with my bike i tried to make some places and snuck past a few lads. Some smartass from over the fence yelled out "you used to be faster than this" DRRR i thought and got back to the race. After a little bit of a wrestle with the runners i was out and onto the run.
Now some might say i am not the prettiest runner, especially when I'm on the rivet and gasping for air. Today my lack of style was amplified by a few extra kilos and a small lack of condition. For the first 2kms i felt like i was running on the spot with no forward drive at all. I kept waiting to hear runners come storming past me, but in reality only one did as i was surrounded by guys my age or the age group below. So i was holding my own.
Finally i got into my strides at the 2.5kms turnaround. My strides started to lengthen a bit and i felt a touch more relaxed. I saw fellow squad coach Aaron Keeffe about 100m back at the turn so that was what i needed to put the foot down.
With about 1.5kms to go i was blowing hard and i was seeing glimpses over of my shoulder of a black figure gaining from about 50m back. i have never been a kicker at the end as i am usually sitting right on my terminal speed so i just nailed myself from 1.5kms not knowing if he was in my age group. Gave it everything but he got me with about 100m to go, and thankfully he was not in my age group. 
I am never one to start a watch for an event, so I worked out coming up the chute that id done around a 1:02hrs based on the finishing clock, which was confirmed post race. In the end i was pretty chuffed with that and finished 4th in age, not bad for someone who can't sprint.
Adam Conquest, Damon Moloney and me
I wasn't a patch on the squad athletes i coach though, we came away with 2wins, 3seconds, 2thirds and a number of top 5's on the day. We also performed very well at some other events being held simultaneously too. 
It was great to get out there and mix it up, i love a good hitout and i cant wait for the next one.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Triathlon swim training with a Pull Buoy, Friend or Foe?


Thought i would give you our take on pull buoy training at Fluid swimming.
Swimmers come in many shapes and sizes and especially so with triathletes; large and small, some float and some don't.
This provides the key to whether each individual should be using a pull buoy in training.
The pull buoy does two things, it provides artificial flotation to the lower limbs and also cuts out the kick and all that provides the swimmer.

If a swimmer naturally has a 4-6 beat kick then i would not be encouraging the swimmer use a pull buoy outside of drills or recovery work. The pull buoy would likely take away the kick drive and body balance the swimmer relies on and effect the position of the swimmer. When a swimmer has an effective kick then their legs and hips usually sit higher in the water. The pull buoy would be counter productive to this and effect the swimmers natural stroke kick balance.

If the swimmer naturally has a 2 beat kick, then it is more likely that the pull buoy would assist the swimmer with buoyancy and body position. It would bring the hips and lower limbs up and reduce frontal drag. So i would encourage these types of swimmers if they feel it benefited their speed to use pull buoys in training.

The other aspect that must be accounted for when setting pull sets for swimmers is the difference in natural flotation between the sexes. Typically women tend the float more as they have a more even distribution of fat through the body, whereas men, especially triathletes who have a low percentage of fat in the body tend to sink especially in the lower limbs. Couple that with low drive from the kick, and this has a bearing on whether a pull buoy assists or hinders an athletes swimming speed and efficiency.

Swimmers come in many shapes and sizes, so the pull buoy can be a friend or foe in the training pool. I find as a coach it's best to ask the swimmer if they like using pull buoys, and if they don't then i do not use them with that individual.

For the most part, our squad uses pull buoys for recovery and drill purposes, but if a swimmer really benefits from using a pull buoy outside of those times, i don't necessarily discourage its use. You will see them swimming longer and stronger with the pull buoy attached, and lets face it, a wetsuit is really just one big pull buoy anyway.

So don't be a pull buoys Nazi and ban them from the deck.

Coach Foz

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Its Race week!

We are creatures of habit, and when it comes to athletes we are especially so.

Our personality types that gravitate us to sport thrive on routine and maintaining it. Slowly over the last 8 months i have come back to this routine that gives me great joy.... regular structured training.

Its a routine i know well and have been in the way of for nearly 2 decades. My routine in that period has taken me to some crazy hours, upwards of 34+hours a week on the track when it was at its most intense. 

This year was about getting out, racing and being involved instead of just watching from the sidelines. I raced Port Mac in May more so just as a jolt to wake me up and get me moving again. 
I limped over the line in a time i have erased from my memory thankfully, but it did the trick.
I continued on and had a bit more fitness coming into Sunny Coast 70.3 in September where i was in the race a bit more finishing in 4:30hrs and 10th in age group.

Since then the local triathlon season has slowly been looming since Sunny Coast and i really wanted to get back to regular racing via Sprint events where it all started for me. I love it that as a sprinter you can get out and race every other weekend. All your eggs aren't just in one basket.

This weekend will see me suit up again for a Sprint race at the Gatorade Tri series race at Elwood. My last 'sprint' was a Mini tri at Port Arlington in 2011 which was turned into a Duathlon due to weather. It was so short and intense but was great fun all the same.

Cant wait to get out and amongst it at Elwood. I'd like to thank Dave Hanson for encouraging me suit up this weekend with an entry to the event.

Ill be looking to use racing to get me fit with a number of events over the next few months. 
My main event will be Geelong 70.3 where ill give it a nudge and hopefully score a 70.3 Worlds spot for next year. But really if i beat Amy Williams from IRONMAN i will be satisfied 
See you on the weekend at Elwood, come and say hi.
Good to be back in the routine.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Post Ballarat 70.3 Recce Updated Notes

Well we ventured up to Ballarat last Saturday to swim ride and run a lap of the new Ballarat 70.3 course. The weather was cool in the morning, and the wind was blowing S/SW at 24-31km/hr, so we were to get a true indication of how the course is affected by the wind.

The Swim Course
This is the same swim course as last year. The lake is only a small inland lake, and it will likely be around 20degrees for race day, so definitely a wetsuit swim for competitors. The wind was up for the Recce but this had little effect on the water surface so there will be no need to worry about any real choppy conditions for race day.
Swim start area

We got in the water for practise and the first thing you will notice is reeds under the surface in the warm-up area. Don’t let this bother you though, as you move to the start line and all the way along the course the water is deeper, clean and surprisingly clear.
There is not a lot of sighting opportunities from landmarks on the shoreline at Ballarat, but due to the flat conditions you will have no problem sighting the well- marked guide and turning buoys put out by Ironman.

It’s not like a salt water beach swim but as close to pool conditions as you will see. The rowing lane guide ropes about a meter under the surface also will help competitors swim straight, doesn’t get more pool like than that!  

The NEW Bike Course
The new course is fairly sheltered for the first 8-9kms of each lap with the out and back section along Sturt St, and then around the Victoria Park Circuit. Competitors will need to be conservative in their riding style with a few of the corners on the circuit and to stay left unless overtaking.

The real bones of the course is on Remembrance Drive along a 17km section out to the far turn around under the Western Hwy.  It is pretty flat and exposed with farmland on either side and is generally slightly downhill on the way out and the reverse on the return.
If any, historically the wind will be coming from the South / South east. It will provide a cross tail assistance on the way out and cross head wind on the return
Victoria Park Circuit 

I think the more novice riders should consider their wheel choice for the race, especially the front wheel.  Don’t have too deep a front wheel if you are light and less experienced on the bike.

I would be moderating my intensity early in the ride and build gradually to a sustainable race pace to ensure you have good legs for the final parts of the ride.

With 34kms of mostly flat road for the final part of each lap, it will be important to periodically get out of the saddle along this section to change position and give relief to the back and hamstrings.

As the event will have a full road closure, ride within the left car tyre marks on the road unless overtaking for the smoothest ride, and avoid the shoulder on the left hand side of the white line. The shoulder has a rougher surface with loose stones in sections.
All in all a power course, so include some long sustained aero riding to prepare the body for race day.

The NEW Run Course
As I mentioned in the last blog, the run improvements have been a real plus. Three full laps of the lake gives this course a flow; it’s one the competitors will love.  Here are a few things we noted from the recce day.
The Moneghetti Track

There are some bitumen sections on both sides of the lake, and a section on the far side that has a bit of both. Make sure you run on the black stuff along here, it will help with traction and run speed.  The hard packed gravel sections also provide some shock absorption relief for tired legs with minimal loss of traction on your foot fall.

There are a few little undulations, short and minimal but if you are on the bit, you will notice them and on the far side of the lake you can cop some headwind if the day is windy.
All in all it’s a picturesque run around the lake, nice and cool being next to the water and a lot to keep you occupied with.

Can’t wait for Ballarat 70.3

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

BALLARAT 70.3 Run Course Preview

Ballarat Competitors,

The 21.1km Ballarat run course has been updated after last year’s inaugural event. This year will see 3x (7kms) full laps of the Wendouree Lake on the Steve Moneghetti Track which borders it, with a slight deviation around the North Garden to make up the necessary distance.
Last year's course recce run
With these improvements athletes will experience more of a flow to their run instead of having to negotiate out and back sections near transition which was the case on last year's 2lap course. This will add to the enjoyment of the run for the competitors on this flat picturesque course.
The run follows the hard packed gravel track around the shore line of Lake Wendouree. The track is named after local Ballarat running legend Steven Moneghetti who represented Australia many times at Commonwealth and Olympic level in the marathon

Competitors will get to see some great sights and scenery along the way including the Olympic Rings monument which was erected at the finishing line of the 1956 Olympic rowing, kayaking and canoeing course on the Lake. This was in recognition of Ballarat's participation as one of two host city for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
The Finisher Chute
For the most part the run is a completely flat track and is well shaded in parts with overhanging trees. As the course follows the water line for the majority of each lap, there will likely be a cooling effect for competitors in case of a hot day.
The race will finish with a run up one of the longer finishing chutes in Ironman racing. If last year's atmosphere up the chute is anything to go by, the finish line will be one big party celebrating the great efforts of all competitors.

To the run times from last year
Last year's run times were pretty swift with winner Michael Raelert clocking an impressive 1:13:53hrs run split to take out the event. The weather were conducive to a fast run with cool conditions and his time compares favourably to the time he clocked at Mandurah 70.3 weeks earlier in 1:12:45hrs.
I will be expecting some fast run splits and overall times from competitors this year. Ballarat is a qualifier for 70.3 Worlds in Queensland in 2016, so athletes will have extra motivation to score one of the coveted qualifying spots on offer at Ballarat.
Should be a great race come December.
If you want to get one up on your competition, then come along to the official Ballarat 70.3 Course Recce day on Saturday 7th November from 8:00am to 2:00pm. You'll get a chance to ride one lap of the course under supervision.

To book, email me Sean Foster at

Monday, November 2, 2015

BALLARAT 70.3 Bike Course Preview

Ballarat Competitors,

Now to the new and improved bike course at Ballarat. Yes there have been some changes to last years course, and I think they will add to the experience and the importantly your average speed.

Michael Raelert in the lead on the bike in 2014.
Last year at the start of each lap there was a 9km out and back section around Lake Wendouree. The road around the lake has a number of roundabouts which made for a slower start for competitors. This year that slower section has been dropped and instead competitors will head straight out and then left onto Sturt St for a flat fast out and back ride to the Bowls Club prior to entering the shaded Victoria Park Circuit, which was part of last years course.

At Ballarat in 2014 Michael Raelert and Luke Bell were the pros off the front setting the pace with 2:08hrs and 2:10hrs bike splits. Compare this to Mandurah where Raelert and Bell both went around 2:00hrs on the bike. This can be put down to last years conditions which weren't conducive to fast times with a wind blowing and a damp road, but more on that shortly.
The Arch of Victory on Remembrance Drive

The Victoria Park Circuit section has slightly narrower roads than the rest of the course with some turns. This will see athletes in and out of the saddle with changeable pace. A Tip for competitors: be careful on your change of pace through this part of the course, keep your accelerations moderate and try to maintain your speed through the corners. The circuit is well protected from the elements and helps to break up the ride compared to the other long straight sections of the course. 

Now to the nuts and bolts of this course. Coming out of the Victoria Park circuit you will turn left and head in a north westerly direction under the Arch of Victory along Remembrance Drive. Its a 17km ride out to the Western Hwy near
Lake Burrumbeet. The road is gradually down hill all the way to the far turn, so its likely to be faster on the way out. Sticking to your pre-arranged race pace strategy and not getting to excited on fresh legs will be vital here. The Wind generally blows S/SE along this road so you will either have a cross tail helping you or as in last years case a cross wind. It was quite strong last year and if there is wind, you will be open to the elements along Remembrance Drive.
The new and improved course

The return to finish the first lap will definitely be harder for competitors, so be conservative early on with your power. The wind if any won't be helping and it's slightly uphill all the way back to town so keep this in mind when setting your plans.

Once you are back in town, its a left turn onto Wendouree Parade for 1km, then out onto the second lap. 

One tip for everyone: being a flatter course change up your position periodically by jumping out of the saddle to give the primary driving muscles a rest and to straighten out the back, especially later in the bike as you are nearing the run. This will help keep you loose and set you up to hit your rhythm early in the run leg

In Summary, I think if we are blessed with good conditions this can be a fast course suitable for all levels of rider. The course changes that have been made by IRONMAN will make for a better competitor experience and it will be more spectator friendly with most of the ride in and around one section of road.

 For our first time competitors at Ballarat, please go in with a plan. The two main things you need to consider are your pacing and nutritional/fluid strategies. With your pacing, set a power/heart rate range and stick to it, ride your own race and don't deviate from it. If anything aim for a slight negative split of intensity and remember the old adage, you ride for show and run for dough. Think about what you can hold pace wise and dial it back a few percent, so you come of the bike feeling strong and ready to run. 
Official Bar and Gel Supplier for Ballarat 70.3

With your nutrition, work out what are your energy and fluid requirements each hour and how you are going to intake them (Bars? Gels? Energy Drink? ) during the bike and stick with it. Small amounts often for even energy intake throughout.

If you want to get one up on your competition, then come along to the official Ballarat 70.3 Course Recce day on Saturday 7th November from 8:00am to 2:00pm. You'll get a chance to ride one lap of the course under supervision.
To book, email me Sean Foster at

For the race athlete guide go to