Ten Thousand Squats?

Through the off-season, I’m going to be working on strength, particularly focusing on enabling me to run better off the bike in an Ironman.

If you don’t regularly do enough strength work, it can be a daunting prospect, so to get started, I have set myself a challenge, using a very basic strength exercise that’s great for runners.

The squat.

YouTube is littered with squat challenges already and in thinking of my own, I’d initially thought of 100 squats for 100 days, which for the mathematically talented, you already know is 10,000 repetitions.  I like that number because it has associations with the magic number of training hours in takes (in theory) to reach the pinnacle in a sport.

Those lofty ideas were soon set-aside however, when I realized that during that period, there are going to be days when for one reason, or another, I simply won’t be squatting on that day. So rather than bring you the 97 out of 100-day challenge, I am simply going for the 28 days of my current work rotation in Iraq.

Today was day 5 of 28 and at 5 from 5, I’m feeling confident enough to share.

If 100 squats sound like a lot to you, let me also share that I’m doing it as 10 set of 10, off 1 minute… humm that sounds like a swim set!

Setting off at the start of every minute each 10-rep set takes about 30 seconds, leaving me an equal amount of time to move out of the stance position (in my case to do mini-tasks that get me ready for work), before hitting the next ten. It fits easily into my morning routine and takes just nine and a half minutes to complete.

If stronger running next season is something you’d like to add to your 2019 objectives, why not join me in the challenge?

Here’s a helpful technique video, if you’re unsure how to perform a basic squat correctly:

Weekly Swim Session Plan 28 August 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 184

Back to a technical focus this week, with a selection of mixed drills to give your stroke an all-over tune-up.

Warm Up:

200m Starting very easy, building to steady.

Technical set:

4 x 50m slow-arm recovery

4 x 50m Quick-catch

4 x 50m Doggy paddle

4 x 50m High swingers

Main set:

4 – 8 x 200m rotating focus between aspects of your stroke influenced by the drills you performed

Warm down:

300m super-easy, focus on long exhalation into the water.

Total Volume:

2100 – 2900m

Coaching Points:

Take your time in executing the drills.  Aim for more accurate execution of the drills with each 50m repetition.  Quality is key when drilling for technique improvements.

During the main set, try to replicate the feel of each drill during the relevant phase of the stroke.  Rotate your focus every few strokes, to a different part of the stroke cycle, sensing whether there has been an effective influential link between the drill and the swim stroke.

Be willing to return to a drill during the main set, if you feel that there are important gains to be made in that element of your stroke.

Weekly Swim Session Plan 21 August 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 183

While for the majority of athletes, A races have come and gone, maintaining some volume in swim training will mean the longer sessions aren’t so difficult to get back into, next season.

Warm Up:

200m easy pace

Technical set:

200m easy, checking your stroke for faults (or awareness of previously identified areas for improvement).

Main set:

4 – 8 x 400m (timed)

Warm down:

200m easy – feel how easily you’re moving through the water.

Total Volume:

2200 – 3800m

Coaching Points:

Use technical focus to make improvements as the session proceeds. See if you are able to find any “free speed” by making slight improvements to those things that were either creating drag, or ineffective propulsion.

Weekly Swim Session Plan 15 August 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 182

At this time of the season, even your volume set should be sharp to deliver best-pace come rest day.

Warm Up:

Simple 200m warm-up to give yourself an all-over body-check, before you start your swim.

Technical set:

300m Easy loosener

Main set:

12 – 20 X 100m at CSS – 4 seconds (critical swim speed) 15 seconds rest after each.

Warm down:

300m super-easy, focus on long exhalation into the water.

Total Volume:

1800 – 2600m

Coaching Points:

This session will feel easy in the beginning – but wait for the second half to catch up with you.

As always with this type of session, don’t go out too fast, CSS-4 seconds should feel very doable at the start.

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GI Tri Coach

So you’d like a better run split?

When I first undertook Ironman Certified Coach accreditation over three years ago, I had the good fortune to be virtually introduced to the practice of Matt Dixon at Purple Patch Fitness as one of the six IronmanU Master Coaches, that delivered our training.

Recently, while in Hamburg for the Ironman event, I happened upon one of Matt’s athletes, fully decked out in Purple Patch race kit (yes, she finished well ahead of me) and our discussion led me to listen to  Matt’s Podcast

There are so many podcasts out there at the moment, its sometimes difficult to sort out the wheat from the chaff, though I can assure you, this is definitely high quality grain.

In the first one I’d listened to, Matt introduced a term he uses with his athletes and its one I’m keen to adopt and encourage my athletes to use in training and as a tool for race day performance.

Matt’s coaching term – MFP

Yet another triathlon acronym? What’s this one?

My best recollection from Matt’s podcast is that:

MFP = Minimal Form Pace

It’s the minimum pace you can run, in which all elements of good form are present.

OK, so what are all the elements of good form?

The four main areas Matt suggests we look at are:

  1. Posture – stand tall – don’t look like you’re sitting on a bar stool
  2. Shoulders in front of hips – forward lean from the ankles for momentum
  3. Tidy and supple arm carriage, the majority of movement being behind the body
  4. Foot speed – correlated to arm speed and arises from the first three elements.

The desirable though often sacrificial fifth element is Propulsion – pushing through the big toe for better forward propulsion.

Running with good form inevitably causes you to run faster than you would once form has broken down.

I’ll often encourage athletes to focus on running form during a particular session but this checklist of the key elements, provides a simple toolkit, acting as a catalyst to arrive at your best sustainable pace.

For more accomplished athletes, MFP can be used as a recovery pace between hard training efforts. During the efforts, the fifth element – propulsion is overlaid on four form points, creating greater running speed, though it’s worth noting that this can be difficult to sustain for less accomplished athletes.

For athletes earlier in their development, we might use MFP as an aspirational race pace. For longer training sessions, until fitness and athletic ability develop, we can bridge MFP with a walk break, or intentionally remove one of the elements of good form – typically foot speed.

By understanding and being aware of these key elements of good form, we can approach “race pace” more strategically and adopt the method most appropriate to the athlete based on the principles of:

Run as well you can – As long and you can – As often as you can.

Four elements, three principles. Simple, easy to remember, even when under the stress of a long session, or race day.

Look out for MFP in 2019 GI Tri Coached Triathlon training plans!

Please find out more by reference to Purple Patch Fitness  and Matt Dixon’s Podcast.


GI Tri Coach


Weekly Swim Session Plan 6 August 2018

Download and print this session plan here: session plan 181

This week’s session uses the simplest approach to achieving an optimal pull pathway – using doggy paddle, which allows you to literally see what your hands are doing during the propulsive pull phase of the swim stroke.

Warm Up:

200m, easy

Technical set:

6 x 50m long doggy paddle up the pool, swim back (use a pull buoy to isolate the legs)

6 x 50m long doggy paddle up the pool, supplement with kicking, swim back

Main set:

8 – 12 x 200m aim for good technique throughout and consistent times

Warm down:

200m – 400m     Easy to very easy

Total Volume:

2600m – 3600m

Coaching Points:

Forming the catch at the front of your stroke is the first step. Once you have formed a high-elbow catch, progressively increase the backward pressure on the water, levering your body over the hand, which can be visualised as being at a fixed point in the water, perhaps as if pulling on the rung of a ladder?