Swim sessions for a recovery week


We are at the end of the first micro cycle of the offseason. After 3 weeks of progressive load, it’s time to make a step back and to plan a recovery week in order  to start with energy the second micro cycle. Swimming is always good for recovery. The total time spent in the water is going to be more or less the same of the previous week but the intensity (and the total distance) is going to be lower. It’s a good moment to introduce some drills to improve freestyle technique. We will keep using strength tools like fins, paddles and pull buoy, while the amount of sprints at race pace will be significantly reduced.

As in the load week plan, there are 5 swim sessions: 3 long (about 1 hour) and 2 short (30-40 minutes). In the following you will find the suggested sets for the first recovery week of the annual training plan.

Session 1

-400m warm-up (mixed styles);
– 6 x 100m kick, 30sec rest between reps;
– 6 x 150m, 100m with resistance (arms only with pull buoy)/50m without resistance, 30sec rest between reps;
– 6 x 100m free style, rest on 2′;
– 200m cool-down (mixed styles).

Total distance: 2700m
Total time: approximately 1 hour

Session 2

-400m warm-up (mixed styles);
– 6 x 100m closed-fist freestyle, 30sec rest between reps;
– 6 x 150m, (50m freestyle, 50m head-up, 50m freestyle) 30sec rest between reps;
– 6 x 100m catch-up freestyle, 30sec rest between reps;
– 200m cool-down (mixed styles).

Total distance: 2700m
Total time: approximately 1 hour

Session 3

-400m warm-up (mixed styles);
– 6 x 100m freestyle with dolphin kick (optional with fins), 30sec rest between reps;
– 6 x 150m, (50m freestyle, 50m breast with freestyle kick, 50m freestyle) 30sec rest between reps;
– 6 x 100m superman (optional with fins), rest on 2′;
– 200m cool-down (mixed styles).

Total distance: 2700m
Total time: approximately 1 hour

Session 4

-300m warm-up (mixed styles);
– 1000m with paddles, focus on high elbow and catching water)
– 200m cool-down (mixed styles).

Total distance: 1500m
Total time: approximately 30 minutes

For the short swim sessions you can repeat session 4 on Friday or you can change paddles for fins and swim 1000m focusing on your kick. Remember that the goal of this week is to reduce fatigue. Pay attention to your technique and save speed for the load weeks.

I hope you liked my swim sessions. As always, if you have any questions, leave a comment below. Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive more information about training and nutrition and follow me on my social networks to check my progress. Write to you soon! Stay tuned!

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Offseason full week of training


I have completed the first full week of training of my annual training plan. You can see a summary in the picture above, from my Training Peaks profile. We are in the offseason now and the goal is to improve strength and power/VO2max. As you can see, about 1/3 of the training time is spent at the gym trying to improve muscular strength with weight training. I will post soon the exercises that I’m doing for chest, back, arms, abs and legs. Cardio sessions are mainly short and intense. The goal is to work on strength specific sets for swimming, cycling and running and high intensity intervals to improve VO2max. I’m doing the sessions posted in my previous posts. If you missed them, just click  on the links. As always, if you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you like the posts, don’t forget to give a thumbs up and if you want to know more, subscribe to the blog and follow me on the social networks. Stay tuned and write to you soon!

2 Bike Sessions to boost power and VO2 max


As mentioned in the Offseason Training Plan, the first mesocycle will have 2 cycling sessions focused on improving VO2 max using a home trainer. The offseason covers 3 of the coldest months of the year (at least where I leave in Lucerne, Switzerland) and that’s one of the main reasons to plan the cycling session on a home trainer. Not to mention that the trend even amongst professional triathletes is to do the hard sessions indoor. Some of the main reasons are linked to safety (nobody has ever been hit by a car in his house) and efficiency: when you have to do timed intervals at a certain wattage, it might be impractical if you have to stop at a traffic light. If the weather permits, you are welcome to add to the program one outdoor easy ride with your cycling friends per week. In the following, I will show you 2 sessions to boost your VO2max using a home trainer during the offseason. I will report also my target in terms of watt for each session but that’s very individual. In order to calculate the watts that I need to reach to improve my VO2max I did a diagnostic test with Christian Pötzsch, the triathlon coach of my triathlon club.

SESSION 1

  • 10 minutes warm up;
  • 5x 1′ maximum effort (350 watts) 1′ easy (170 watts);
  • 5′ recovery, easy spin;
  • 5x 1′ maximum effort (350 watts) 1′ easy (170 watts);
  • 5′ recovery, easy spin;
  • 5x 1′ maximum effort (350 watts) 1′ easy (170 watts);
  • 10′ cool down;

SESSION 2

  • 10 minutes warm up;
  • 5x 2′ maximum effort (350 watts) 2′ easy (170 watts);
  • 5′ recovery, easy spin;
  • 5x 2′ maximum effort (350 watts) 2′ easy (170 watts);
  • 10′ cool down;

These two sessions are a good starting point for the offseason. While you are progressing through the program you can increase the number of sets with VO2max intervals or you can increase the length of the intervals. I will start with these 2 sessions for the first micro cycle. If you want to know how I progress, subscribe to my blog and follow me on my social channels. If you have any questions, leave a comment below. Write to you soon! Stay tuned!

3 Run Sessions to boost VO2 max


As mentioned in the Offseason Training Plan, the first mesocycle will have 3 run sessions focused on improving VO2 max through treadmill workouts, track workouts and hill workouts. In the following I will show you an example for each type of run workouts.

SESSION 1 (treadmill)

Set the incline of your treadmill at 1% to  compensate for the absence of air  resistance.

  • 1km warm up;
  • 10x 1′ at maximum speed followed by 1′ recovery (easy jogging or walking);
  • 1km cool down.

You can increase the number of reps as you progress through the program but I would not do more than 20. This sessions are more about speed than about distance/time. You must be able to keep at least the same speed from the first rep to the last one.

SESSION 2 (track)

  • 2km warm up:
  • 10x400m at maximum speed with 1’30” recovery;
  • 2km cool down

As for the treadmill session, you can add more 400m reps as you progress through the program.  Try to keep the total distance (including warm up and cool down) under 10km and make sure to give everything in each 400m. If you are not able to keep the same pace, do not add more reps. Remember, the goal here is to improve your speed.

SESSION 3 (hill sprints)

  • 20 minutes warm up;
  • 8x 30” sprints uphill, recovery easy jogging (or walking) down hill;
  • 5 minutes easy;
  • 8x 30” sprints uphill, recovery easy jogging (or walking) down hill;
  • 10 minutes cool down.

After a few weeks, maybe towards the end of the offseason you can add a third set of 8 sprints uphill.

I hope you like the examples/guidelines above. If you want to see exactly what I do in my training, don’t forget to follow me on my social network profiles (especially on Strava). If you have any questions just leave a comment below. Write to you soon! Cheers!

3 Swim Sessions to boost Strength


In each load week of the first microcycle I have planned 3 long swim sessions focused on improving swim specific strength and power. In this phase we will need mainly paddles, fins and pull buoy. At the end of the first microcycle the swim sets might be adjusted. Subscribe to the blog if you don’t want to miss the latest updates. In the following you will find the details of the 3 long swim sessions.

SESSION 1

  • 200m warm up (mixed styles or crawl);
  • 10x100m with fins, recovery on 2 minutes:
  • 6x50m crawl, recovery on 1 minute:
  • 10x100m with paddles, recovery on 2 minutes:
  • 6x50m crawl, recovery on 1 minute:
  • 200m cool down (mixed styles or crawl)

Total distance: 3.000m
Total time: approximately 1 hour.

SESSION 2

  • 200m warm up (mixed styles or crawl);
  • 20x50m with fins, recovery on 1 minute:
  • 6x50m crawl, recovery on 1 minute:
  • 20x50m with paddles, recovery on 1 minute:
  • 6x50m crawl, recovery on 1 minute:
  • 200m cool down (mixed styles or crawl)

Total distance: 3.000m
Total time: approximately 1 hour.

SESSION 3

  • 200m warm up (mixed styles or crawl);
  • 20x50m with fins and paddles, recovery on 1 minute:
  • 6x50m crawl, recovery on 1 minute:
  • 20x50m with paddles and pull buoy, recovery on 1 minute:
  • 6x50m crawl, recovery on 1 minute:
  • 200m cool down (mixed styles or crawl)

Total distance: 3.000m
Total time: approximately 1 hour.

If you have any questions just leave a  comment below or contact me on my social network profiles.

3 Swim Sessions to boost VO2 max


In the offseason I will do two swim sessions per week focused on improving VO2 max. According to the plan these sessions will take place on Wednesday and Friday in the morning. The theoretical path to improve VO2 max goes through 1:1 intervals. Each interval should be executed at the maximum speed affordable by the athlete, followed by a rest period of the same length of the interval. For example, if you do 10x100m and you swim 100m in 1 minute, you should rest for 1 minute after each repetition.

I have designed 3 sessions that I will use in the first microcycle of the offseason. I will do 2 of these sessions per week for 3 weeks. Before the beginning of the second micro cycle I will decide weather I change these sessions or not. Please find below the details.

SESSION 1

  • 300m warm up (mixed styles or free style);
  • 20x50m, recovery to 1’30” (I aim to swim 50m in about 45” with 45” recovery, 1:1 intervals);
  • 200m cool down (mixed styles or free style).

Total distance: 1.500m
Total time: about 40 minutes.

SESSION 2

  • 300m warm up (mixed styles or free style);
  • 10x100m, recovery to 3′ (I aim to swim 100m in 1’30” with 1’30” recovery, 1:1 intervals);
  • 200m cool down (mixed styles or free style).

Total distance: 1.500m
Total time: about 40 minutes.

SESSION 3

  • 300m warm up (mixed styles or free style);
  • pyramid: 50m, 100m, 150m,  200m, 250m, 200m, 150m, 100m, 50m (recovery is based on the 1:1 intervals structure);
  • 200m cool down (mixed styles or free style).

Total distance: 1.550m
Total time: about 40 minutes.

If you want to know how it goes, just subscribe to my blog and follow me on my social networks. If you have any questions leave a comment below. Write to you soon! Stay tuned!

Offseason Training Plan


As mentioned in the article about Training Plan for 2018, the first mesocycle goes from November 2017 to January 2018 and it is called offseason. This mesocycle is composed by three microcycles of 4 weeks: 3 weeks of high intensity followed by a recovery week. The second microcycle in December will be more flexible because of the Christmas holidays. The goal is to stretch the load weeks almost to 4, followed by 9 days of easy training between Christmas eve and the beginning of the new year. In each week of a microcycle I might add (probably I should) a recovery/rest day depending on how I feel. I believe that rest day cannot be planned but they have to be taken when needed by the athlete. The focus of this mesocycle is to improve the strength of the triathlete/runner working with weight at the gym and through sport specific strength sessions for swim, bike and run. This kind of workouts can be done only in the offseason because they are very intensive and the level of fatigue will be very high. During the race season the athletes cannot go under this kind of work loads because they need to be fresh for racing. Cardio sessions will be planned in order to increase VO2 max in this phase. More details will be provided in the next articles.

In the picture above you can see the sessions planned for the load weeks of each microcycle. The long swim sessions will focus on swimming with tools that improve swim specific strength like paddles and fins. The sets will be designed in order to improve strength in the lower body and the upper body with swim exercises. The goal is to swim short intervals producing the maximum amount of power for a session that will last approximately 1 hour. On the contrary, the short swim sessions will last only about half an hour and they will be focused on improving VO2 max. There are 3 run sessions planned in non consecutive days. These sessions will be structured in order to improve VO2 max with treadmill workouts, track workouts and hill workouts. Bike is planned twice a week and it will take place on the home  trainer with the goal to improve power and VO2 max. Last but not least, there are 4 sessions of strength and conditioning at the gym. In the offseason we can workout at the gym like bodybuilders, lifting heavy weights for a low amount of reps, trying to reach muscular failure and gaining strength. More details will be provided soon. Stay tuned!

The sessions planned for the recovery week in this phase are the same as in the load week. What is going to change is the intensity and the structure of each session. The long swim sessions will include more drills focused on improving technique and the short sessions will be structured as recovery swim training. Two of the run sessions will be easy recovery runs and one will be structured as interval training. Same for  the bike: one session will be intervallic and the other one easy recovery. At the gym we will try to keep the level of fitness achieved. We don’t want to increase weight, sets or reps but we want to keep the strength gained until that moment.

If you want to know more details just subscribe to my blog and follow me on the social networks to receive the updates as soon as I post new information. If there is something in particular that you want to know, just leave a comment below. Write to you soon!

Training Plan 2018


Hi guys, I’m back! After 1 year break I have decided to start again writing in my blog about my training plan, competitions and so on. 2017 has been a very successful season and I’m looking forward to starting next season. I did my last race of the year (at least the last important race) in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. After that, I took a well deserved break but now it’s time to start planning 2018. I still have to plan my race calendar for next year, nevertheless my break will be over at the end of the month and starting from November I will begin my preparation for next season.

In the picture above I have reported a tentative planning from November 2017 to March 2018 just to give you an idea. In my files I have done this exercise until October 2018, thus I have created a 1 year training plan (macrocycle).

My training plan consists of 4 mesocycles. Each mesocycle is a 3 months period. Every mesocycle is composed by 3 to 4 microcycles of 4 weeks: 3 weeks of high volume (load weeks) followed by 1 week of lower volume (recovery week). In each load week it’s recommendable to take a rest day or an active recovery day (marked in light blue). As you can see there are no rest days marked in the plan at the moment. I strongly believe that athletes should take a rest day when they need and not when it’s written in the plan. Rest or active recovery days will be distributed in the plan depending on the outcome of training days and also on the race calendar. The day before and after a competition should be used to rest and/or recover.

The microcycles are also tentative, meaning that they will be adjusted depending on the race calendar for 2018. Ideally the recovery “week” should be distributed in the days before and after an important competition. But don’t worry, I will keep you posted on any update regarding my training plan. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and follow me on the social networks.

As I said above, the plan consists of 4 mesocycles: Offseason focused on improving strenght and VO2 max (November 2017 – January 2018); Preseason focused on improving lactate threshold and reaching race weight (February – April 2018); season kickoff focused on maintaining the gains of the previous mesocycles and improving through the competitions (May – July 2018); peak of performance and end of the season (August – October 2018). As you can see, the goal is to build the performance throughout the plan in order to reach the peak of performance in August and September and to take a deserved break in the second half of October. I will try to race the most important competitions of the year in this period in order to maximize the results. My goal for next season is to improve my personal best in all the triathlon and running distances.

If you want to know more, stray tuned! In the following days I will post more details about my  training plan and once the plan has started I will let you know how it goes.

Resumen entrenamientos 25-31 julio


Plan semanal

En la tabla de arriba podéis ver las sesiones de entrenamiento que hice la semana pasada. Ha sido basicamente una semana de descanso después del IronMan de Zurich.

De lunes a miércoles descansé. Aproveché para trabajar a tope para el lanzamiento de Loolaba puesto que tenía vacaciones de mi trabajo en OCD. El jueves fue mi 30 cumpleaños 🙂 trabajé todo el día y por la tarde fui a hacer series en la pista de atletismo de Lucerna con dos compañeros del club. El viernes descansé. El sábado fui a Meirinegen con Tanja y Anne. Desde Meiringen subimos el Sustenpass a más de 2.200 metros. Fue muy bonito ir en bici en los Alpes suizos con un día espectacular y la mejor compañía. Lo pasamos genial. Luego regresamos hasta Lucerna en bici (con un breve tramo en tren) sumando 118 km y más de 2.000 metros de desnivel positivo. El domingo descansé.

Esta semana en principio me gustaría volver a entrenar como antes del IronMan. El sábado quiero hacer el triatlón olímpico de Nyon y el domingo la Engelberg Berglauf. Te lo vas a perder? Sigue mis aventuras en las redes sociales!

Este es el resumen de la semana en números:

Natación: descanso;
Bici: 118 km;
Cursa: 5 km run;
Tonificación: descanso.

En total he entrenado mas de 5 horas! Que te parece? Coméntalo en el blog!

A continuación os dejo el resumen de la semana en imágenes :-)

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I am an IronMan


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Así es. Han sido 5 años de entrenos, a veces muy duros, carreras, ensayos y errores. He aprendido y mejorado mucho, he transformado mi cuerpo y por fin puedo decir: soy IronMan!

El sábado 23 de julio fui con Chad en tren hasta Thalwil. Se tardan 35 minutos desde Lucerna. Cogimos hotel allí porqué estaba a 6 minutos en tren de la salida del IronMan. Dejamos nuestras cosas en la habitación y luego fuimos a Zurich para buscar el dorsal y preparar el box de transición para la batalla del día siguiente. Tuvimos tiempo para visitar la feria que como cada año era impresionante. Tras dejarlo todo preparado, tuve que volver a Lucerna porque me había olvidado el sistema de hidratación de mi Scott Plasma. Regresé otra vez al hotel sobre las 9 de la tarde y tras prepararme para dormir miré un poco lo que había pasado en la última etapa del Tour de France antes de acostarme.

El domingo por la mañana nos despertamos a las 5. Nos preparamos, desayunamos y fuimos a la salida del IronMan. Llegamos allá sobre las 6. Tuvimos tiempo para chequear que todo estuviera en orden, poner el neopreno y andar hacia la salida. Al final no tuvimos tiempo para calentar en el agua. A las 6:40 horas empezaron los profesionales y desde las 6:45 los populares: 8 atletas cada 5 segundos.

En la natación fui relajado. No quise empujar demasiado porque sabía que no valía la pena gastar demasiada energía para ahorrar un par de minutos nadando en una carrera tan larga. Acabé en 1 hora 10 minutos, quizás un par de minutos más de mis expectativas. Menos mal que nos dejaron ir con neopreno. Acabé con mucha energía y ganas de empezar la bici.

Los primeros 35 km de bici eran muy planos y fui a más de 40 km/h de media: muy rápido. La segunda parte del recorrido tenía varias subidas y bajadas: la más dura The Beast, la bestia 2.8 km al 7%. Luego, había que bajar y costear el lago hasta Zurich para luego subir la Heart Break Hill: una cuesta tan corta como dura y llena de espectadores, a lo Tour de France. Seguramente haya sido el momento más emocionante de mi carrera deportiva. Tras la Heart Break Hill había que volver hacia el box de transición y empezar la segunda vuelta de 90 km. La primera vuelta fue muy bien, la hice en 2:32. Sin embargo, empezaron a molestarme los lumbares y en la segunda vuelta me costaba mantener la posición aerodinámica. Fui bastante más lento pero acabé la bici en 5:26.

Al bajarme de la bici me notaba bien. Las piernas todavía estaban frescas y al estar recto, las lumbares dejaron de molestarme. Empecé a correr a 4:50 min/km. Iba tan fuerte que adelanté a Jan van Berkel 🙂 Bueno creo que ya estaba en su tercera vuelta de la cursa a pié y estaba teniendo un mal momento. De hecho, tras unos 5 km volvió a adelantarme a toda pastilla. Los primeros 15 km fui muy bien pero luego empezaron a faltarme las energías y me costaba correr hasta a 6 min/km. Al final de la segunda vuelta empezé a mirar el tiempo total y a calcular el ritmo que necesitaba para bajar de 11 horas. Me tomé con calma todos los avituallamientos porque hacía mucha calor y no quería deshidratarme. Al final cumplí con mi objetivo y entré en meta en 10:57:26 escuchando: “Alex Ciherean, you are an IronMan!”.

Estaba satisfecho y contento pero me di cuenta que había disfrutado más en los 5 años anteriores desde que me estrené en distancia sprint y que me puse como objetivo lo de ser un IronMan. He repartido la felicidad que da conseguir ser finisher a lo largo de los años que me he estado preparando. Creo que ha sido la manera mejor de vivir esta experiencia y recomiendo ir paso a paso para preparar un IronMan. Estrenarse en un triathlon con un IronMan no merece la pena.

Ahora hay que mirar adelante y pensar al próximo reto para la próxima temporada. Te lo vas a perder?! Apúntate al blog.

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