Tuesday 2 February 2016

Bridgewater Triathlon Club
Newsletter – January 2016

As promised just before Christmas, here is the first BTC Newsletter of 2016. The format and style are still a work in progress, so any suggestions will be gratefully received.

In this issue we will have a few club announcements followed by two features: The first of these is an essay written by Hughie Fraser in “Training Corner. It is very timely and wonderfully informative. Thank you Hughie. The second is hopefully a recurring column designed to dispel or explain “conventional wisdom” or at least get a debate going. The series will take the format of a question and answer, called “Maybe... Maybe not.”

We are still looking for submissions. If you have anything newsworthy, please send it in. If you have any particular insights you'd like to share, send them in also. If you have acquired a new piece of equipment and would like to do a review, if you've learned how to use some training analysis software and would like to do an introduction to it, or if you have learned something about training, racing, gear, rules, physiology, nutrition etc. please jot down your thoughts and send them to me at bridgewatertriclub@gmail.com. The sky's the limit.

Well, let's get on with it.


  1. Members David Gough and Rachelle Rebman are engaged to be married. Last I heard, nuptials are scheduled for August 2016. Congratulations to two wonderful people!
  2. BTC's winter swim sessions start this Friday at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Center at 8:00 PM. You must be a member of BTC and TNS to join, but the actual swims are covered by the club, so they're free to you. There'll be workouts posted but there will be little instruction unless you can corner someone in your lane or the next lane over who is fast and willing to share their knowledge.
  3. Rob Bonney has kindly volunteered to take over managing the club website. He's changed the look and feel of the site and added some new information.
  4. The 2016 O'Regan's Subaru Riverport Duathlon is now included in Race Roster's registration system. Registration is not yet open, but an announcement about that will be made closer to the race.
  5. Don't forget the 2016 Lunenburg Heritage 5k Run on June 12. This is always well organized and attended and a great gauge of your early season fitness.
  6. This year's Aylesford Triathlon has been awarded status as both a Provincial Championship race and as a World's Qualifier. All this in only its second year. From all accounts this is a fun race and virtually in our back yard.
  7. Congratulations to Steve Saunders for completing the “Dopey Challenge” at Disney World this month. Well done!


All of us who entered triathlon, or any of sub-disciplines of swimming, cycling or running, did so for a particular reason or reasons.  These reasons change over time and our goals change over time.  Many of us enjoy BTC because of the social factor.  Others because of the competitive drive to improve ourselves and our race times.

I think one of the most important decisions early on in triathlon is to decide on a goal.  I don't mean a particular race or time (although this could be a goal).  The goal could be consistently exercising so many days a week for a period of time.  Or the goal could be improving on a specific aspect of the sport (the pull of front crawl and getting more "aero" on the bike).  To be successful for yourself, identify these goals and develop a plan how you will achieve them.  If this means a training journal which you keep at your bedside or whether you post it on Facebook to keep motivated, this is up to you. 

Triathletes, for the most part,  are techno junkies.  We love GPS devices, heart rate monitors, power meters and the list goes on.  For the most part, these devices will not dramatically improve your performances unless used correctly.  For example, why bother checking your heart rate if we have no concept of aerobic/anaerobic speeds or zone based training?  These devices and tools are only as good as the athletes using them.  Invest some time in learning how this technology can be applied to YOU.  Better yet, find an expert (a coach or high-end athlete) who can harness this technology such that your training time is efficient to help you achieve your goals.

The last thing I have to say about training is the social media aspect.  Many of us use Strava or Garmin Connect to share work outs with each other for a variety of reasons.  Make sure you are doing this for the right reason.  Many of us use these forms of social media for motivation- I certainly do!  As well, we can see cycling routes or to plan our own workouts.  One piece of advice I have to offer is to avoid comparing yourself to others. When reviewing a long bike ride or difficult week of running on Strava, be sure to put this into perspective.  Why did this athlete do such a difficult week or ride?  Are they preparing for a certain race or was this "for fun?"  Would any of these rides or runs fit your training plan?  As well, avoid constantly chasing Strava segments.  If you have a goal of becoming a KOM, work towards that goal.  If not, every recovery ride will turn into sprints for certain landmarks and you will not be recovered for your next hard work out. - Hughie Fraser


Question: I'm trying to plan out my training for this year, and I've always read that training should be periodized (build a base on long, slow distance workouts, then as race season approaches, insert progressively higher intensity workouts to build speed) and follow a pattern of progressive overload (increase duration and intensity each week for several weeks followed by a recovery week, then ramp up again). Does this still make sense?

Answer: Conventional wisdom supports periodized, progressive overload training plans. However recently, significant debate has cloudied the waters a bit. For more on this debate Google “Endurance Nation”, “Trisutto”, and “Joe Friel's” blog, and "reverse periodization". In essence, the answer is “It depends.” 

This is what I gather from the discussion:

  1. If you are new to endurance training, or are adding a new discipline (eg. you're a runner who now plans to take up cycling to become a duathlete) it makes sense to take significant time, (up to two years) to build a base. This is to allow the necessary adaptations in your ligaments, tendons, flexibility, balance, pressure points etc. in order to reduce the likelihood of injury. The sides of the road are littered with newbies who developed overuse injuries from increasing the duration and intensity of their workouts too soon. Don't be in a rush, it'll come.
  2. If you have a few years under your belt and know how to use progressive overload to increase intensity, there is significant merit to including higher intensity workouts year round. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, long, slow distance (LSD) workouts are deadly boring on a trainer or treadmill. Therefore, throwing in some higher intensity intervals will introduce some variety. Secondly, some argue that you can quickly (within 12 weeks) regain your endurance in the spring leaving you free to do shorter, harder workouts in the privacy of your own dungeon all winter long. They contend that “first you get fast, then you go long”.
  3. If you are over 50 years of age, the fitness you lose over the winter by doing only LSD work cannot be fully regained in the spring before racing season starts. Physiologically, as we age we lose the hormones that allow us to lay down and sustain the muscles and energy system support necessary to race up to our potential. However, research has shown that performing higher intensity workouts year round will significantly slow the loss of our strength and speed and in fact may allow us to improve year over year (within limits).

If you have experience or perspectives that support or refute the above, we'd love to hear from you.


That's it for this month, Remember, if you have any news, announcements, kudos, opinions, knowledge, perspectives or suggestions for improvement, please send them in. All feedback welcome.

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