Triathlete Todd Turns Adversity in to Triumph

The Folsom Sprint Triathlon proved a HUGE difference from the Tri For Real Olympic Distance race last weekend.  After suffering from dehydration and low energy last weekend, I definitely learned my lesson for today.  I drank copious amounts of water and “carbo” loaded (pizza and spaghetti) the last two days prior to the event.  What a difference!  I felt great in warm-ups; strong and energetic.  In the swim, I wanted to follow  my two basic rules:  relaxed recovery and forceful expulsion of air under water. The most common mistake I make is to not expel my air after breathing, causing oxygen deprivation after a couple of minutes.  It proved a little difficult to weed through previous waves, but I ended up with the fastest swim split overall by about 1:50.  More importantly, I felt fast and in control, knowing I was having a great swim.  After a quick transition to the bike (1:05, 3rd fastest)  I wanted to make sure to build into the bike and focus on keeping a high cadence for the first 5-7 miles of “uphillish” riding to conserve power.  I knew I was going well with good, fast, race pace breathing, but great energy.  I ended up with the second fastest bike split overall and again, more importantly, knew I had a good bike leg based on my cadence and perceived power.  I posted the second fasted T2 at :44 seconds and immediately got into my rhythm on the run.  I wanted to make sure I stayed powerful and focused on the run.  I ended up with the 7th fastest run split, but was happy with the effort and focus.  I ended up as the fasted overall amateur behind a young,  pro triathlete by 1:56.  While the final ranking feels great, I am most pleased with the fact that I raced hard and executed on the race goals and preparation.

Todd Heinzen, o2fitness Athlete

O2fitness athlete Todd Heinzen Tunes Up His Tri

Really pleased with today’s race.  Course was a little slow on the swim and bike.  Rougher water and a little breezy.  Cold too.  But I was out of the water in about 9:50 with good aggressive effort.  Bike was really fast.  The run up the beach was about 1 minute longer than last year and my bike split was about the same.  Leaves me about 1 minute faster for just ride time.  I was flying.  Got into the pain early in the race and lived there.  Run was hard.  I had a good effort, but felt a bit fatigued.  This is a tough course to find a good pace with all the hills, single track, etc.  Even then, I think I ran about 5 seconds faster than I have ever run.  1st AG by 3:15 and 4th OA.  I would have won the 3 age groups younger than me, so THAT gives me bragging rights!  Fast group ahead of me with one young pro triathlete winning.  Very nice result by effort and speed., especially on the swim and the bike. Todd

Triathlete Todd Turns it Up

I think the question for me is what has made me a faster, stronger triathlete. I got a coach because I knew I lacked knowledge and experience in certain aspects of training physiology, form and experience. Also, I comnitted myself to becoming better. More succinctly, I wanted to get faster.

Some core learnings I have taken away: A significant amount of training needs to take place near or at race pace. For an Olympic Distance triathlete, that is at lactate threshold. I currently had done this, but Julie’s o2fitness program has longer sets (so more time spent at LT) and higher frequency of those type of sets. The results have been obvious: my ability to ramp up to race pace has gotten much easier and that type of effort has become significantly easier to maintain. It is like flipping the switch now, whereas in the beginning it was very difficult to attain and hold that effort.

I have also realized that a comprehensive training plan is just that: comprehensive. Training needs to include technique drills, strength building sets, aerobic days, maximum effort days, etc. I came to Julie very strong aerobically. But, I lacked strength, so I was unable to get my HR high for extended efforts because my legs would not respond. In addition, technique is often one of the main components separating great athletes from good athletes. Watch any great athlete perform and the difference is obvious. They are not always stronger; they just do it better.

We see in print often the statment that to get faster athletes should work on their weaknesses. This is too true. I knew that my cycling, while not weak, had significant room for improvement. I also made the hypothesis that by improving the longest, middle leg of a triathlon, my run would improve as well. Now, I see Julie’s credentials in the cycling world are clear, proving a huge advantage for me! And, I was correct: both cycling and running legs have improved together.

The last thing that has been re-introduced to me is the concept of the highest adherence and greatest intent on each workout. Do the workouts as prescribed. More importantly, if the day prescribes a low heart rate and technique drills, do THAT workout the BEST you can. We often make the assumption that harder and longer are always better. I tell myself that whatever the plan is for that day I am going to attempt to truly excel at that workout. Conversely, if a really hard day is planned where a maximum effort is needed, I want to go to a place I have never been. No time like the present to break down barriers in terms of maximum speed, hear rate and pain. Rest is part of this adherence to the plan as well. I know that I will not be able to perfom personal bests in workouts unless I am resting adequately. There is little value to having little energy in a workout that requires maximum effort. To me, that is a lost opportunity to get better.

It is always good to measure things quantitatively to see if we have really improved. I took a race that I do every year and here are the time improvements with the past 10 weeks of training.

Bike: -2:22 Run: -:25

Course PR: -2:30

National Age Group Ranking: 2011: #85
Current Age Group Ranking: 2012: #28