Last week I traveled to Greenville, South Carolina for a Private Training Camp with my Coaches from TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition. This camp consisted of 4-days of working one-on-one with my Coaches Marni and Karel.
This camp was not about seeing how many miles you can log or how much elevation you can climb, even though there has been a ton of that, it was about giving them the opportunity to get to know me as an athlete, to identify my strengths and weaknesses and to analyzing each of my SwimBikeRun forms, which will alloow them to develop strategies to improve in each area. Things don’t change overnight, it takes time, so I’m excited to continue this journey with them by my side.
Today was all about the equipment. First was a few essential upgrades to my TRI Bike (Meredith).
-New Cockpit setup.
-Ceramic Speed rear idler pulleys.
-LOCK style clip in peddles.
Next came the Bike Fit. Karel is a Retul bike fit expert. A Bike Fit, or adjustments / alignments, make riding more enjoyable by making you more efficient while reducing the chance of injury and increasing comfort on the bike. It’s essential for any endurance athlete that spends hours on the bike.
He took some basic measurements then went to work adjusting the base bars, aero bars, then the saddle. Once he had everything in the general area that it needed to be, he set up the computer and attached these EKG type devices to me (see pic) and this allowed him to get the precise adjustments needed. It was a long process but the changes were ineradicable. If you haven’t had a Fit done on your bike, I highly recommend it.
After my TRI bike was done, he did a Fit on my Road Bike as well.
Day 2 started in the Pool. Marni took many (before) videos to share with Karel, as he was finishing up my bike(s) and could not attend the swim session. This was all about identifying my swim stroke weaknesses, and yes their are many!!
After the swim, we met up with Karel and took the bikes out. Like the swim, this session was for them to evaluate my bike handing skills. Before we took on any serious riding they needed to know what I was capable of, because safety is always first. We covered 37 miles and about 2,200 feet of elevation. Over all a good session, but much harder rides were to come.
We finished off day 2 with a 30 minute run off the bike. Running in the heat and on hills does not come easy for me, then add Running-off-the-bike to the mix and it was a hot mess, literally
You would think that after running many marathons and logging over 1,000 running miles a year for the last 5 years, running would be the easy part! Well, guess again. More to come on that in day 3.
Day 3 started back in the pool. Overnight Karel and Marni had reviewed the videos of my swim the day before and they came prepared to make some adjustments to help me become a more efficient swimmer which is really the goal for Endurance Triathletes. It’s not necessarily all about speed, though that is important, it’s the efficiency you have with each stoke that really matters.
An IRONMAN race is very long and for every tiny bit of energy you can save on each swim stroke, each peddle stroke and each stride you take on the run, is energy you will have to finish the race.
After the swim, it was back on the bikes. This ride would be a pivotal point for this entire camp.
This total ride was about 40 miles and about 2,000 feet of elevation. We headed north toward Marietta, then west toward Table Rock State Park. After we headed west there was an 8 to 10 miles stretch of what Marni called “Punchy” hills, they were small mountains to this Flatland. LOL
I was following Karel and on one of the longer climbs, I was loosing it. My heart rate had skyrocketed and I could not catch my breath. When I finally got to he top, Karel was in a pull off waiting for me. After I had slightly recovered, he took the time to explain what I was going wrong. If you know Karel, you know he is very straight forward, which I appreciate.
He explained to me that I was “spinning my legs off”, and that’s why I was so out of breath. To me, when I would hit a big climb, my brain was telling me to shift down, to the lowest gear (easiest) and it would feel easier, which it did, but at a huge cost.
He used his bike to demonstrate how far his bike would travel in one peddle revelation in the lowest (easiest) gear which was about 3 feet or so. Then he shifted up one gear, just one gear, (harder) and did the same demonstration and his bike traveled maybe 1 foot further, which 1-foot may not seem like much, but over 10 pedal revelations it an extra 10 feet, then 100 feet and so on, which can really add up fast. So I saw that it’s more “efficient” to uses the highest gear that you are capable of using with your strength. Also, this higher your cadence, (rpm’s) that more your heat has to race to supply blood to those muscles which in turn drives up your hear rate.
Just after that, we turned around and back tracked on the same hilly roads and wow, what a difference. I would stay in as high a gear as I could muster and I was able to manage my heart rate and was actually faster on the second half of the ride on the same hills. The benefits of having Coaches who not only know what they are doing, but have the ability to comuncate it to an athleat in a way they can useder stand is so important.
Lastly we finished up the day with some running drills. Like I said earlier, running off the bike with extremely fatigued legs is so different then just stand alone road racing. I have a lot to work in that area.
As it turned out, day 4 was by Birthday. When your Coach says, “It’s your birthday, we need to do some Epic Shit Today“, you kinda know it’s going to be a hard day. LOL
We started of on the bike. We headed north to Tirgerville where we parked our cars, then we headed out. Karel was leading and Marni was behind me giving me navigational ques as we went along. The first hour or so was a lot a rolling hills and a number of fast curves. At about an hour into the ride, Marni said we are approaching the “Appetizer” climb, like this was in some way preparing me for what was to come. Then sure enough, at the 1:35 hour point, we started the Saluda Mountain climb. It was 4 1/2 miles of pure hell. (see pic below). But my coaches were by my side, reinforcing what what I had learned over the previous 3-days and I just ground it out. Switching from in to out of the saddle (something I could not even do before camp). I changed up my cadence slightly, every so often to give my legs a change of pace, I looked for the flattest part of the road on the switchbacks, something Karel pointed out to me. It was so hard, but so rewarding when I was finished. Just over 3 hours, 47 miles and nearly 4,000 feet of elevation, my hardest ride to date, yes, I did do something pretty EPIC on my birthday.
We finished up the day was a short run off the bike. I was still a Hot Mess on that run, but I was able to start to apply some of the new tools for running that Karel had shown me the night before, so I was happy with that.
That evening I had diner and a Q&A with my coaches.
So that wraps up my Training Camp. I spent an extra 3 days in the Greenville area after Camp to do some additional training on my own and some sightseeing. I will blog about that soon, so stay tuned. Feel free to drop a comment below or sign up to receive these bogs directly to your in-box.
Until nest time….