Posts

Ben Shepherd

Yarrawonga-Mulwala OD Race Report

Yarrawonga-Mulwala OD Race Report – Ben Shepherd

 

Pre Race

Ben ShepherdI hadn’t had much time to think about the race. Noting that there was no open field, the professional athletes were racing in the age groups. This meant that I was already a little more relaxed going in as I had no aspirations of winning. I simply went in to the race looking to race smart and hard in the conditions.

Unlike every other race, the event started in the afternoon. This gave me a lot of time to think, drink coffee, and think again. Dangerous. I definitely prefer racing in the morning, but all in all a good learning experience.

One of the best things I did was showing up to transition early. I managed to secure an excellent spot right by the entry to T1, allowing me to see my bike right out of the water. Unlike every other race it was not a ‘select your spot’ deal, but rather an alternating, 7-to-a-rack deal where we were ordered where to go. If you were late, you got lost in a rack, making it nigh on impossible to spot your bike. Once I had the bike racked, I went off to find an early lunch and grab a quick nap in the car.

 

Swim

A two lap swim (boo), fresh water (yay), murky as anything (boo). The field appeared super aggressive at the start with a lot of shouldering and nudging even before the buzzer went off. I was pushed out of the way by a dude about three times my size, which was a bit offputting. It did give me a good target to chase though.

When the buzzer went off, I experienced the most brutal swim start I have ever seen. Punching, kicking, pushing, I even saw someone have their head held underwater. It left a really bitter taste in my mouth as to how aggro these competitors were. Still, I focused on keeping good form and trying to find fast feet to hold.

Once the field cleared out a little bit, I started to see some clear water and some fast feet ahead. Keeping a thought on form and technique, I powered on a little bit and managed to grab hold of a trail of bubbles. Turns out that trail was being created by Nathan Shearer, a newly turned pro who won the 25-29AG at Kona last year. Once we entered the relative calm of the lagoon, we bounded up the ramp to T1 and continued with the rest of the race.

All in all, I swam a 22:30 – or spot on 1:30/100m. Not bad considering the start, the visibility and the fact that it was a freshwater swim which is traditionally slower. Even better was the fact that I left the water feeling very fresh and relaxed – I have never done that before, which to me means a whole lotta progress. Positive signs.

Positives: Finding (and holding) feet the whole way. Consistent power, felt like I still had something in the tank when I left the swim. Surged when required.

Negatives: Allowing myself to get beaten up at the start, getting frustrated by the washing machine effect, focusing my anger on the guy who pushed me out of the way before the gun – more control needed here

 

T1

Not a lot to say here. Bike was nice and easy to spot. Ran to it whilst unzipping the wetsuit. Goggles and cap off, wrenched the wetsuit down the rest of the way. Helmet on, grabbed bike, turned bike computer on while running.

Huge transition layout meant I had to run a long way with the bike. This wasn’t too bad because it gave my HR a chance to settle down as I made my way to the exit. Mounting the bike was a bit poor – right foot went in well, but shoe came unclipped when trying to get the left foot in. A bit more practice needed here but not a whole lot of damage done to the race clock here.

Bottom line: Transition needs work!

 

Ride

Oh boy. This is where it gets fun. Two lap course around the bay. For the first 6km, I had a tailwind or a cross/tailwind. I was holding low 200’s on the power meter, and sailing at 46+ km/h. Happy days. Then as the course went around the corner, it became more of a crosswind, then a cross/headwind. Struggletown! I watched my average speed play jump rope with 40km/h, then watch it dip significantly as I made the turn and powered into the headwind to return. My average speed was about 39.2 by the time I had finished the first lap. I picked up the power for the second lap – as planned – but the wind seemed to have picked up as well. I surged for a bit at 300W to try and make up some time, but then race experience spoke to me and I accepted that my final return leg was going to be a bit slow. I retained a NP of 255W, and an average speed of 38.6km/h, giving me a 1:02:06 bike. There were a few moments during the ride that I was passed by someone punching out significant watts, but for the first time (ever), I accepted it, didn’t go outside the plan, and put faith in my run to catch them. It wasn’t quite the ride I wanted (sub-1 is the goal), but all in all I am happy that I rode intelligently given the conditions.

Positives: Consistency, intelligence, and lack of ego.

Negatives: Rough mount of the bike, went too easy on the way out, could probably have pushed a bit harder on the way back in too. Need to find another 20+ watts in my opinion.

 

T2

Another long run back in which allowed time to get the head together. When I arrived, I noticed someone had knocked my visor and glasses around, so I scrambled to grab them. Shoes on smoothly, race number on, visor and sunnies on, locked and loaded. Another long run out, but everyone faced that. I left feeling pretty calm, thinking I was in around 10th or so position (but in reality had NFI).

 

Run

‘Run Smart, run within yourself’ was my mantra as I set out. I didn’t want to burn my matches too early like I had done in Townsville, and I needed to keep the pedal down for the whole 10km. The run was another 2 laps, a small climb up and over a bridge between Vic/NSW, and part gravel/part bitumen surface, which was quite tight in some places. Not my favourite run course, but not the worst by far. I kept an eye on the heart rate, as I didn’t want to blow up on this one like I did at Townsville. Surprisingly, with a comfortable HR of 165, I was able to hold a 3:47 for my first KM. This trend continued, holding around 3:50 or better for the first 5km. Then the wind picked up and I slowed slightly. My last 5km averaged out to be about 3:55, with my slowest going 4:01 – into wind and up the bridge. No negative split, but definitely a solid improvement compared to my last race. My official run time was 37:07, but the course was 300m short – so I’d probably be around the 38 minute mark. Still, a good day out. Good signs included not needing to smash water into myself like I did at TVL, and feeling relatively comfortable apart from a bit of shoulder pain at about the 5km point. Manageable but uncomfortable.

The best part? I passed the guy who shoved me out of the way with about 3km to go. Vindicated. Happy days.

Positives: Consistency, aerobic fitness, and no need for excess hydration.

Negatives: No negative split, noticing the soreness in the shoulders.

 

Summary: A 2:05:32 isn’t a bad effort. There is plenty of room to grow, but plenty to be happy about. Third in the AG (won by a pro), which from my count puts me at 45 out of a possible 50 points so far. The quest for ITU world champs is alive and well.

Looking forward to Robina in January with a bit of time to grow.

Shep.

Do Your Best! – Tim Franklin

Dealing with Pre Race Nerves

Pre Race Nerves – Dealing with them positively 

Leading into any major race I encourage athletes to spend time visualising their race day performance.  Not from a time perspective but more on how they want to feel. What do they want to feel like? Feeling strong, being patient, positive and confident in their physical ability. Overcoming the challenges as they arise and being in the present at all time during the race.

Planting the emotional and mental seeds in your body to take your performance to another level. It will be hard, there will be challenges however if you have spent time preparing mentally for those challenges then you will more than likely still achieve the result you were wanting.

Getting in touch with your emotional self is the true art of racing; which in my opinion is beating that evil little voice in your head that will rear its ugly presence either before or during the race. 

This exercise is especially effective on race day when it come to dealing with pre-race nerves.  That funny feeling you get in your stomach. The adrenaline that you feel running through your body and that nervous excitement that takes over you as you start to prepare for the ultimate battle. Yes it is the ultimate battle against yourself. Not your competitors, not the course, not the distance but you.  Only you and that little voice that says you’re not good enough. 

Pre race nerves are a good thing. It shows that the race means something to you. So rather than seeing it as a negative turn it into a positive. Accept the feelings and acknowledge they are there. 

As an example say this, “I’m nervous, that’s okay that means I am ready to race.” Compared to, I’m so nervous and I don’t know if I can do this.” Embrace the feelings as they hit you and don’t waste precious nervous energy fighting them. 

If you start a race in a positive, confident and strong frame of mind then more than likely that is how you will perform during the race. Strong, confident and positive which is what you have visualised leading into the race.

 

 

 

 

Chain Reaction – Gerrard Gosens

Tri Nation Triathlon July Newsletter

Mark Kona Training

April Newsletter

Volume versus Intensity

In my last article I spoke about polarized training and the importance of going easy on the easy and hard on the hard.  Before I go into the benefits of volume training and the benefits of training with more intensity it is important to discuss what is easy and what is hard. 

I believe in keeping it nice and simple. Many coaches will discuss 5 different zones of training from zone 1 being active recovery to zone 5 being faster than race pace. Each with a different heart rate range however from a programming perspective I find this to be confusing and unecassary. 

Easy, moderate and hard is all you need. Easy is aerobic training at under 70-75% of your maximum heart rate, moderate is 75-85% of your max and hard is 85% and above.  We should try and spend most of our time in the easy aerobic range and most of the other 20% in the hard range.  I am not a big fan of doing too much in the moderate range.

We don’t go hard enough or easy enough to get the physiological benefits required. These include improved fat burning and improved muscular endurance which in my opinion are the two key principles we should be look at improving.  The easy aerobic training predominantly improves fat burning while the harder anaerobic work improves muscular endurance. 

One thing we know with training is that volume works.  It gives us the required physiological changes we need to perform well.  When it comes to long course racing I think a level of 15-20 hrs per week is the ideal consistent range you need to be in if taking a volume based approach to your training or the 80/20 polarised approach. 

However not everyone has 15-20 hrs per week to train.  In that case an approach where the formula is changed to a more 70/30 of 70% easy and 30% can also yield similar results.  It should be noted however this type of training is very challenging both physically and mentally. There can be not any wasted training time. 

Shorter intense training can lead to a similar training effect to longer easier training. As am example a 4hr ride with specific interval work can give a similar training stress to a 5-6 hr longer aerobic ride. My experience and studies have shown that the longer aerobic ride will produce better results but not my a great deal. 

Where this type of shorter harder training comes into play is for an athlete that is time poor. The make up of the 4hr ride with intervals vs the 5-6 hr aerobic ride are different but depending on the athlete both have application. 

Hawaii IronmanI have tried both philosophies myself and also coached athletes in both ways and have found the longer rides to produce better training adaptations. An  example if Chris Bailey who has qualified for Kona twice on nothing longer than 4hr rides and also Stella Foley who went onto more longer aerobic rides of 5hrs plus. 

Another athlete I trained to Kona Scott Budd did more intense running due to time restrictions but longer rides so sometimes we mix it up depending on their available time. 

The underlying principle here is that while I have a guiding philosophy you need to be flexible and adapt according to the athlete. 

In the next article we’ll touch on the importance of building the solid aerobic foundation and going slow to go fast.

Mark’s Musings – Where Did We Lose It?

Where Did We Lose It?

Having had our little boy Finn recently, I can’t help but be reminded of how simple life is for babies and small children.  Eat, sleep, have someone to love you and there’s your recipe for happiness.  Everything is simple, we’re not scarred by life’s challenges and we have a go at everything.

fall-down-seveWhen we learn to walk we fall down a lot but get back up and keep trying. In fact everything we learn to do as children we keep going until we have mastered the skill. But as adults we have these barriers, we give up when it get’s hard and we also berate ourselves mentally when things don’t go to plan. 

As adults, at times, I feel as though we have lost our way in what being happy and satisfied is about. We get lost in wanting more, worrying about what others think and perhaps at times are too focused on a result rather than the journey that goes towards to outcome.  

In my professional life, I have been fortunate enough to coach/teach children and adults.  There are pros and cons to working with both however the main difference is children are less concerned with the result, have more fun with the process and are far more open-minded to trying new skills. 

Kids don’t worry about what others think as they’re more concerned with trying to develop the new skill and are definitely less inclined to give up when it gets too hard. Adults sometimes focus on why it won’t work, what will happen if they fail and what others will think. 

And adults will sometimes say the worst things to themselves, like I’m not good enough, that person is better than me and there is no way I can do that. Kids however haven’t learned these bad habits and just have a go.

Would you say some of the things we say to ourselves to your friends or children?  Of course not so why then do we say them to ourselves?  Why are we stubborn and resistant to change?

have-funSo where did we go wrong?  When did it become so much about what others think and worrying about the consequences of what some might perceive as failure?  It’s almost like some adults have a fear of success and are too addicted to their comfort zone. Can we be more like kids and just have fun?

By nature, I am serious person and have been told that sometimes I come across as scary when coaching.  I know I enjoy my coaching more when I have a laugh and aren’t worried so much about whether people are enjoying the session or if they are getting what they need from it.  I am certainly guilty of such thoughts at times, in fact I think most people would be. 

I find by being more relaxed I am more inclined to develop a connection with the athletes.  It goes without saying that the better connection a coach has with their athlete the more the athlete will respond.

It further affirms to me that our mindset controls so much on race day. At the elite level especially there is often very little physical difference between the athlete.  What then seperates them is a mind set. Their self belief, confidence, mental preparation.  I think this tweet emphasizes what it should be about, we fall down but we get back and keep moving forward and believe in ourselves to do what it required, whether that is walking or running.

 https://twitter.com/_JasvirSingh/status/773686957461348352?s=02

 Why do we not adopt the same practices at age group level? I am convinced that if we trained our mind as much as our body we would be more satisfied, happier and less stressed.