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AndyS




Joined: 05 Jan 2004
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:24 pm    Post subject: IM Speed Reply with quote

Am I right to think Ironman speed comes from outright strength? I'm assuming all your work would be very aerobic so you can't rely on explosive force. So huge slow twitch muscles must muscle you around the bike course? But then why aren't fast IM big? They all seem to be quite slender on the muscle front.

Now I've had a taste of an Ironman I'm thinking about next year and how it's best to spend my winter in my new quest to break my PB (by break I mean totally smash to bits). So I'm wondering if long slow aerobic bike sessions would do it or if I need to back it up with something else, and if so what? Doing Fartlek must develop fast twitch muscles which would go unused during the race?

Same question for the run as well.

Thanks.
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Stealth Attack




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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy - I don't know whether this is of any help but the one thing I noticed watching the elites at Winsdor the other week was just how skinny nearly all of them were. Not an ounce of fat on them! So perhaps the quest for IM glory is all about achieving that optimum power to weight ratio?

At last I am something like my normal racing weight (about 10st 6lbs) but I will definately be aiming to start the Longleat race in September at closer to 10 stone. Power on the bike section should not be a significant factor given that most of the time we'll be dancking on those pedals a la Armstrong!

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doug




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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess the main thing is to determine what your limiter is, you've spent a couple of years building a good aerobic base, maybe you now need to concentrate on either power or muscular endurance(ME) ?

Personally I think my aerobic base is now is pretty good, and my ME is not too awful, its the power that is lacking. Over the winter I plan on hitting the weights and big gear work.
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Swerve




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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hold on - the longer the event, the less power you need!

You want a mix of cardiovascular fitness (to make any given level of performance less costly) and endurance (to manage your fuel resources efficiently). Sure, strength is very handy too, but bulking up just makes you require more energy to go a given distance.
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edwarma




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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thinking thesame thing Andy - I still definitely need to work on my aerobic base, but am also thinking that some more strenghth work will be of benefit. I don't intend to be 'racing' an ironman, but I would like to be stronger so hills take less out of him, so I have that explosive bit left to zoom past people on rises, that sort of thing.

God knows how it all works really - but I'm thinking that once you can cycle for 6 hours, regularly, without trouble, then some more hill rep/speed work, as long as you don't go mad, can only make you quicker?

I guess we'll find out next year sometime! Wink
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doug




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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Swerve wrote:
Hold on - the longer the event, the less power you need!

You want a mix of cardiovascular fitness (to make any given level of performance less costly) and endurance (to manage your fuel resources efficiently). Sure, strength is very handy too, but bulking up just makes you require more energy to go a given distance.


I don't plan on bulking up, just adding a little bit more strength/power work to the aerobic work already do to balance things out a little - the power in this instance is the ability to apply force for a long time. I've got the long time bit working fine and I can apply what force I have for a long time, just I don't have that much force to apply in the first place. Part of that is because I come from a running background, plenty of endurance, but no strength.

The main point is to work out what your personal limiters are and try to do something about it...
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John




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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was going to post a thread about this too. I've been asking myself the same thing:

"I can ride 56 miles at an average of 19mph. How can get it up to 20mph?"

This is the best rationale I can come up with, using the gym as an analogy:

Let's imagine for the sake of argument that a pedal stroke on a bike is functionally equivalent to doing a thigh-press in the gym. To go faster on a bike, you need to apply more force to the pedal, and this is equivalent to loading your thigh-press machine with extra weight.

Now if you were in the gym training to build muscle mass, you would load your thigh-press with enough weight so that your muscle will fail after the 8th rep. After a few weeks of this it will become easy to do your sets and so to keep building mass you will "up" the weight NOT the reps.

Distance cycling, on the other hand, requires you to do 1000s of reps without failure, and so having huge muscles is not an advantage (OK, unless you're climbing or sprinting)

Personally, when cycling I have reached the point of muscle failure (ask Duncan!) the same way a body builder does in the gym. In order to stay within my limitations I either need to decrease my load (ie ride slower) or decrease my reps (ride shorter).

Before next season I intend to build my own speed up by working for periods at a higher level of intensity (higher muscle loading, ie faster) than I do at present. Once it gets easy to ride a certain distance at my target speed I will NOT increase the load (like a body builder would) but increase the reps. In other words, ride further.

SO in theory my progress will look like this:

Month 1: "I can ride 40k at av speed of 20mph"
Month 2: "I can ride 50k at av speed of 20mph"
Month 3: "I can ride 60k at av speed of 20mph"

and so on and so on, up to my required distance.

I think I've gone a long way round to articulate something very simple. Sorry. Sports scientists please feel free to tell me I'm talking b0ll0cks.
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Conan




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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My personal opinion with this is slightly extremem but is backed by my coach and many of the top Ironmen winning mdot races. Ironman is a strength endurance event... The top-top ironman guys actually roll along at about 70-80rpm some as slow as 60 averaging 25mph. They turn the aerobic bike leg into a squat session...there are some very interting documents available from my coaches website... www.triathlongold.com.au including the following recommendation...


You have to be Strong!
I make no excuses for my emphasis on physical strength in setting Ironman training programs. For me personally Ironman is a strength-endurance event, and this sets the tone for my programming! In saying that I need to emphasise that I am not talking about increasing muscle mass. Rather I am talking about having a body that is capable of holding itself in a technically correct position, especially during the bike & run, and consequently optimise the contractions of the leg muscles.

My reasoning is quite simple – the basis of moving your body over the Ironman course is muscular contractions. If the muscles have strength as well as endurance, they will continue to function and hence maximise performance, especially the later phase of the run.


If you need any further demonstration that strength training pays off look at Matt H's times Shocked Shocked
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MTriton




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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 8:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What type of strangth training does MattH do? I could do with some of his times!!
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justin_time




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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have a watch of the Tour de France. Jan Ullrich cycles low cadence and gets the speed but Lance Armstrong cycles a high cadence so it really can be a personal preference. Granted they don't have to get off and then run a marathon but I think if they can maintain that every day for a couple of weeks.........................!
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SJB




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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 10:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If we are talking about the bike, then no question it is about power to weight ratio. (in my view), Lance is the best because he is able to maintain a higher power output than anyone else over the duration. I always keep meaning to do weights but never actually get round to it. The only strength work I am going to do more of is sport specific, so lots of hills, riding and running.

Even though ironman training is normally long, slow, distance work I'm going to do a weekly speed session in each sport as well. I've been doing a tempo run every week recently and my long run speed has really improved
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duncan74




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PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was the speed interval sessions on the treadmill that completely transformed my running. I guess that with all these things, it depends on your limiters as to what training you need to prioritise. Some people need to add more weights to bulk up to give them the strength, others I guess need more LSD sessions to buld up aerobic fitness. Perhaps after you 'race' IMUK you'll know more what your limiters are, but see if it was that you really didn't have the power to get up the hills (either bike or run) or if you would have been going into the upper zones and therefore held back to conserve energy. I guess this will then point you in the right direction for where to emphasize early base training sessions.

Duncan 'no idea, but prepard to have a guess using logic alone'
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mdava




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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andy, did you listen to the interview with Gordo Byrn that someone posted last week? It was on enduranceradio.com and you should be able to find it on there.

One of his comments was that he thought triathletes (and especially those who were couch-potato-converts) should concentrate on aerobic efficiency more than speed (or something like that) as all tris are long-distance events.

Worth a listen.
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younggun




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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here’s MHO :

AndyS wrote:
Am I right to think Ironman speed comes from outright strength?
I would say mostly not. Great Ironman speed comes from extreme efficiency, strong aerobic power, and extreme endurance (aerobic endurance, muscular endurance and energy systems endurance). Strength helps your muscular endurance :

AndyS wrote:
I'm assuming all your work would be very aerobic so you can't rely on explosive force. So huge slow twitch muscles must muscle you around the bike course? But then why aren't fast IM big? They all seem to be quite slender on the muscle front.
Strength is important in an Ironman because if the breaking force in your muscle fibres is higher they will be slower to be broken down during an ironman. In a 0-3 hour race you can afford to lose a few muscle fibres on the way (this is one of the things that makes you stiff the next day). In an ironman the accumulative effect is very large and if you don’t have good strength will slow you down a lot. So you’re not actually using the strength for propulsion itself – I think this confuses a lot of people. Fast IMers want the muscle fibres they’ve got to be stronger – this doesn’t increase their size much.

AndyS wrote:
So I'm wondering if long slow aerobic bike sessions would do it or if I need to back it up with something else, and if so what? Doing Fartlek must develop fast twitch muscles which would go unused during the race?
If your training is predominantly endurance based then Fartlek won’t develop fast twitch fibres. The classic way of developing good bike strength is long slow rides, hills, big gear work and weights.

Trainee God wrote:
Personally, when cycling I have reached the point of muscle failure (ask Duncan!) the same way a body builder does in the gym. In order to stay within my limitations I either need to decrease my load (ie ride slower) or decrease my reps (ride shorter).
TG, what were you doing man, climbing everest??? If you really feel like you hit your strength limit on the bike then this is excellent specific strength training in itself – so don’t worry about it, keep doing it. But you mentioned “ride shorter” as a solution so that makes me think you’re getting more classical fatigue ?

Conan wrote:
The top-top ironman guys actually roll along at about 70-80rpm some as slow as 60 averaging 25mph.
Quite a few do, certainly the big lads – but many don’t, especially the smaller athletes and girls; I wouldn’t want people to think it’s mandatory! I actually think the reason they do this is that it is easier to be more efficient at lower cadences at these moderate power outputs. That’s purely due to the difficulty of co-ordinating a fast cadence, especially as neuro-muscular fatigue becomes significant in the second half of the race. In fact in this aspect you can throw the whole argument on its head and say we only need the strength because we can’t maintain the cadence !

Duncan74 wrote:
It was the speed interval sessions on the treadmill that completely transformed my running. I guess that with all these things, it depends on your limiters as to what training you need to prioritise. Some people need to add more weights to bulk up to give them the strength, others I guess need more LSD sessions to buld up aerobic fitness.
I’ve seen that quite a bit where someone’s “new” in a sport – that intervals give them a big lift for the first year or two (kind of assuming you’re newish to running Duncan). But the benefits are much lower from their on in. I think you’re 100% right, an individuals training needs do vary and they vary over time. For Ironman you can’t get enough aerobic fitness, so I actually think that should always be near the top of everyone’s list.

Strength is also important to “hold” your body in the right way during the event – this will improve the mechanical efficiency of your body. The classical area for this is your core muscle groups.

If you want to go faster I would recommend reading Gordo’s stuff, particularly The 4 Pillars and Beyond the 4 Pillars, here : http://www.byrn.org/gtips/gtips.htm

My recommendations for building strength (particularly bike strength):

1) Long steady rides (what - I hear you cry?!) – absolutely the most important thing to develop bike strength. With enough contractions you’ll break the weakest muscle fibres and they’ll grow stronger – that’s exactly the sort of strength you need for Ironman – not “peak” strength.

2) Long big gear intervals, e.g. 3x40 minutes plus 20 minutes spinning at 75% HR. Long hills staying seated. But, conversely, if I feel I’m developing a low cadence style I try to do some spinning work to keep my fast muscular contractions trained (regardless of my chosen race cadence, which might be 80-85rpm).

3) Weights focusing on weakspots and lots of core conditioning.

4) Medley swimming, particularly fly. One of the few things I allow myself to go an-aerobic for in IM training! 100m of fly is one hell of a set of sit ups.

5) Perhaps the most important thing – good nutrition. Our body can’t build if it ain’t got the bits!

If you are 40 or older you might want to prioritise strength training more as everyone naturally loses strength as they get older.

Consider Iron-speed a very long term project. It will take years to develop the things you really need – efficiency, aerobic power, race experience.

** Just read this post of mine back for the first time in 3 years! I'm actually disagreeing with myself on a few things - I think I'm much better informed on this subject now and I'll re-post an update on it when I get the chance. Adam, July 08 **
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Last edited by younggun on Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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AndyS




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PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, seems a more complex question that I expected. I thought I'd get 'do X-Y-Z and it'll make you quick'!

Sounds like I'm not doing so bad, I'll cancel plans for Hawaii next year and just go for a PB. Rolling Eyes
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