ATC 272: Titanium vs. Carbon Fibre, Racing by Pace or HR, Time Off to Get Balanced, Training Short and Long, and more!

October 26, 2018


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In this 272nd episode of Ask the Coaches, Brock and Lucho answer questions about Titanium versus Carbon Fibre Bikes, Should you Race by Pace or HR, Taking Time Off to Get Balanced, Training Short races and Long at The Same Time, and more!

Scott asks:

If you were to return to 70.3 or IM racing next year, what do you think would be the performance difference between an old school titanium TT bike (e.g. Litespeed Saber) and a more modern carbon bike. Which one would you pick?

Let’s assume you can have the same drivetrain, wheels and aerobar setup. Also, for the carbon bike, pick a middle of the road like a Cervelo P3 or equivalent–nothing in the “down payment for a house” category.

The coaches say:

  • If you already have the old school bike, your money is probably better spent upgrading components on that rather than buying a new carbon bike.
  • The front end of the bike is going to matter the most.
  • Wind tunnel test info is not all that helpful… unless you ride 30 mph.
  • Comfort on the bike is going to be more important than the bike’s weight. Coming out of aero because you’re uncomfortable will negate any of the speed benefits from a lighter frame.
  • The weight difference is probably not a huge issue in general. You’re looking at about a five minute difference between bikes, which you can easily make up at some point in the other two events and transitions.
  • You may miss out on some modern conveniences (fuel bladders, disk breaks, bottle mounts) by going with the older bike. But we all agree that the old school Saber looks cooler 😉

Carla asks:

This question may be coming in too late for me to hear the answer on your show before my marathon. If so, it’s all good, it may always help someone else in a similar situation. I am running the Columbus Marathon on Sunday, October 21st.

Since we last “spoke”, I’ve incorporated some speed workouts, changed training plans (from purely MAF to a more traditional plan, although I still make sure easy runs and recovery runs are truly so by looking at my HR). Cleaned up my nutrition with the help of a nutritionist, and incorporated strength training 2-3 times a week.

My plan was to qualify for Boston, which I’ve been training for since June, but with it now changing from 3:40 to 3:35 for my age group, I am no longer so sure I can run a BQ in two weeks. Is this all in my head? Did I cap myself by fixating on a number?

Most of my easy runs are now in the high 110’s/low 120’s bpm, and I’m between 8:05-8:10 min/mi pace in the low 140’s. Since I’m 37, this should still be a fairly easy zone for me, right? (Max HR 176 bpm). During training, I felt good and in control with a race pace of 8:10 min/mi, but my HR tends to go up by 10 to 15 bpm on race day, and this throws me off, because in my mind I feel like it’s not sustainable for 3 + hours. I successfully ran 3x 20 miles during training, with only a few niggles showing up at mile 18, so I’m sure I can go the distance, not so sure I can keep the pace required for a BQ if my HR goes into the 155-160 range.

1 – What are the things that I can do to not let race day nerves bring my HR up so much?
2- Should I hide my HR on race day? Or maybe even put tape on my watch?

The coaches say:

  • Leave HR monitor at home; it’s stressing you out more than anything!
  • Monitoring you HR is for training, not so much for racing… you don’t get a medal for completing the race at a certain HR, after all.
  • The coaches agree that physically you’re in fine shape to BQ. If you trained to run a 3:40 then you can run a 3:35.
  • Lofty goals are a good thing! Go for it. If it’s really worth it to you, then run the risk of blowing up and failing. When you are going for a high goal, failure is always an option. But it’s better than not trying!
  • Tips for race day:
    • Don’t let nerves make you start too fast.
    • Start just behind the 3:30 pace group, or at the front of the 3:35.

Jon asks:

I am 48 years old and have been competing in long course endurance races for more than 20 years, first marathons then eventually long course triathlon.

Last year I had a bad season due to a weird injury early in the year that continued to nag at me the rest of the season. No self-diagnosis here – I worked with a sports medicine doctor and took time away from training as prescribed. By the end of the race season, I still wasn’t feeling right, which prompted me to do two things: real-time away from endurance training and a re-commitment to strength training. (Before I became an endurance junkie I was a gym rat who dabbled in powerlifting.)

I am now through the first half of race season and have continued on with the strength training with the help of the coach at my gym. I have raced well and feel much stronger than I have for a couple of years. Yet, something just doesn’t feel “right.”

The best way to describe it is I feel like I am fighting my body on a daily basis. I am motivated to do the work but I often hurt in ways that aren’t the good kind of training pain. I’ll get a niggle here, then a niggle somewhere else. I want to really push but often feels like I’m doing more damage than good. It feels like my body is out of balance yet I couldn’t tell you exactly how. I feel like it is time to step away from racing/competing for an extended period and really work out the muscular imbalances.

How does one go about doing this in an efficient manner? My fear is I would either try to do too much, hindering true recovery, or I would start to feel good again, causing me to rush back to test things out at a starting line. I enjoy the training as well as competing and would rather take time to reset the body now then destroy my body and be done for good in a few years time.

The coaches say:

  • What was the injury!?!?
  • Niggles are part of pushing yourself.
  • Is the gym coach taking your multisport goals into consideration? Does the coach have experience guiding multisport athletes?
  • Taking time off to get strong and healthy is a great idea. Think of it as both rehab and prehab! But continue strength training during time off.
  • Get a movement analysis from a pro and work from there.
  • Consider referencing Kelly Starrett’s  book Ready to Run or any of Katy Bowman’s books or courses for mobility.

Richard asks:

I’m a dentist in the Army who has struggled with all three events of the Army’s PT test that we have to do every 6 months: running, push-ups, sit-ups. The minimum 2-mile time for my age group is 17:00. Previously I would start running around 2-3 months before the test, stress and barely pass with around a 16:20 time, then stop exercising for the next 4 months until it was time to panic for the next test.

This cycle continued until I failed the PT test during residency and was forced to do 2-a-day remedial PT sessions 4x/week during one of the most difficult times in my professional and personal life. That pissed me off and made me want to make running something I enjoyed again as well as take charge of my fitness as a whole.

This May I ran my first 16:00 2-mile, then I discovered MAF and signed up for my first half marathon. I didn’t focus too much on improving my 2-mile time and got another PR at 15:48 in August and completed my first half Marathon in September in 2:05:24. I was happy with the improvement and breaking the stressful cycle I’ve had in the past.

Now I want to see if I can max my PT test before the Army shifts to their more cross-fit like tests in 2019. So this means I need to drop my time from 15:48 to 13:18. Do you believe this is possible by October of 2019?

I’m 5’10” 185lbs, I’ve already dropped 10 pounds since my last test in August and plan to get down to at least 170lbs. I love seeing my MAF improve and have gone from 13:15 min/mi. in May to ~11:15 min/mi currently but I know I have a lot more to gain there. I really want to break a 10:00min/mi MAF and beyond.

My plan was to run my first full marathon in April as my “B race” to keep improving my MAF through the winter, shooting to finish without injuring myself. I take another record PT test in April 2019 and then my last one in October 2019.

Should I continue to push MAF and then cycle a Jack Daniels program 6-8 weeks before the PT test in April and October? I’ve got about 1hr Mon-Fri and 2-3 hours on Saturday for long runs when I’m doing MAF. Is it foolish to do a full marathon and focus on improving my 2 mile time at the same time? Especially if they’re both in April. I haven’t signed up for the full, so I could potentially find a race earlier or later if it allowed me to cycle and focus on the 2-mile in April.

The coaches say:

  • Depends on which race is first in April. If 2-mile test is 2 weeks before the marathon, then you’re fine. But you’ll be trashed after the marathon, so don’t expect to do a good 2-miler soon after.
  • JD program is great but start 10-12 weeks out.
  • Also consider doing strides at goal pace for the 2-miler starting 12 weeks out, and extend interval time every week as the test gets closer.
  • Check out Brock’s article about Can Losing Weight Make You Run Faster? Sparknotes version: yes it does!
  • MAF is working for you so keep going – until you plateau.
  • Don’t be discouraged when you see smaller improvements; it means you’re getting fitter.
  • The fitter you get, the more specific your training has to become.

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