January 23, 2018

San Dieguito Half Marathon

If you want to race fast you’ve got to train fast. No, I didn’t make that up but I do believe it’s true.

All of my training these days is focused on Ironman but whether you’re training for a sprint distance triathlon or an Ironman you should be incorporating some speedwork with your other training.

For me, running races are the best way to improve my running speed. And since I’m training for Ironman St. George, my distance of choice is the ½ marathon.

On Sunday, February 13th I ran the San Dieguito ½ Marathon down in beautiful Rancho Sante Fe (in San Diego county). It’s a hilly course on blacktop through a wonderful residential area.

This year there were four of us that made the pilgrimage: Larry (Lar Dog) Davidson, Scott Callender and Sara Gilles. All of us pretty decent triathletes. Larry qualified for Kona once, Sara twice and me once (Scott’s going to qualify this year).

The thing is, since we’re all triathletes we don’t expect podium positions in running races because we’re competing against some folks that are pure runners. So whenever you fare well in a running race you’re doing quite good.

It was crisp but clear race morning. We parked a couple blocks away from San Dieguito State Park and picked up our race bibs and shirts. The start is below the park which is probably a ½ mile walk. The funny thing is each step closer to the start the colder it got!

I learned a little trick years ago from Lar Dog to help in these situations – maybe it will help you too. I bring a “throwaway” shirt/sweatshirt with me to the start. Either just before the race starts, or just after, I toss it. That way I can stay warmer and if I don’t retrieve the shirt later, no loss.

Another element made this race fun: Michellie Jones and Joanna Zieger were racing as well. We knew they’d be fast, and they were with Joanna taking 1st and Michellie taking 2nd in the F40-44 age group!

The gun went off at 8:00 a.m. and we all started fast because the first mile or so is downhill. First mile pace was around 6:30 – way faster than I’d be doing on this hilly course.

The pace felt fast but my goal was to try to manage the race based on my heartrate rather than any particular pace. I tried to maintain my heartrate within the 165 and 175 range with an average of 170.

Naturally, going downhill your heartrate would drop but that also gives you an opportunity to pick up the pace. Just the reverse going uphill.

At about the one mile mark Larry and Scott started to pull away. Since I’m not in either of their age-groups I let them go (like I had a choice!). From that point on there were a group of us all going about the same speed. One of us would pull ahead for a while then someone else would take the lead. While we weren’t talking at all we were all on the same mission.
Shortly after the first mile the queen of England was standing there cheering everyone on holding her dog. Maybe it wasn’t the actual queen but it sure looked like it.

Right along the same spot was the beer station. You could choose water or beer – no kidding! Larry grabbed some beer and instantly spit it out. Guess he didn’t hear they were handing out beer.

The second mile was entirely uphill. It seemed like that hill would never end. The good thing is that we’d have that same hill to help us on the way home. At this point I noticed my heart rate hit a high of 178. I backed off a little to get it back into my range.

I’m not going to lie to you, it was painful. I did the Southern California ½ Marathon a couple weeks before but that course was nearly flat – this was anything but!

Like a lot of races, I had periods where I didn’t think I could take another step and others where I felt great – and the great periods weren’t always on the downhill. It’s funny how these races go.

Just before the turnaround I saw Scott and he looked great; running like a gazelle (a 6’3” gazelle)! Scott gave a wave and a shout. Just behind him was Larry. Larry gave no acknowledgement at all. No worries, he was focused.

Once I get into a groove the miles seem to click by. I can usually get into this trance-like mode after about six miles. Rather than the seven minutes or so that it takes per mile they seem to fly by in a matter of seconds.

My group and I were still chugging along. My miles ranged from about 6:30 to about 7:30. I was doing the calculations in my head and was hoping I could beat my time here by a couple minutes. Seemed like my chances were good.

The long steep downhill at mile 12 felt great. The final mile? Not so much! All uphill my heartrate hit 178 again. Oh well, nearly there.

The finish was great with lots of race fans there to cheer you on. A race I’d highly recommend to anyone.

Final tally:

Scott Callender (1:28:39, 6:46 pace, a PR on this hard course good for 9th out of 99 guys M45-49 – 1:30:58 last year)
Lar Dog (1:30:59, 6:57 pace, good for 5th out of 99 guys M50-54 – 1:33:55 last year)
Ron (1:33:57, 7:10 pace good for 2nd out of 52 guys M55-59 – 1:37:12 last year)
Sara (1:37:40, 7:27 pace, good for 14th out of 135 gals F40-44 – 1:39:38 last year)



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Interview with Kevin Rausch – Episode 20

In this podcast Ron interviews Kevin Rausch, founder of Rausch Physical Therapy & Sports Performance in Laguna Niguel, CA. Kevin will provide you with some ideas on how to properly train to avoid the most common swim, bike and run injuries.

The clinic combines manual physical therapy with exercises to help improve core strength, muscle tone while increasing flexibility and correct muscular imbalances to treat the injured area and condition the body as a whole. The goal is not only treat injuries, but more importantly prevent them in the first place. He can help show you how to train properly to avoid injury but can also patch you up when things go wrong.

To get more information on his practice and how he can help you, please visit his website Rausch Physical Therapy & Sports Performance

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Effective Interval Training For Triathletes

One of the most effective weapons of top triathletes is interval training. Here at Triathica we define interval training is a period of “test” then “rest.” In other words you follow a really hard effort with an easy one.

The virtue of interval training is that you can squeeze more quality training into a shorter period of time – something everyone can appreciate! However, there’s more to it than that . . .

Some of the other benefits of interval training include:

• Boosting your metabolism/improve weight loss
• Improve speed
• Improve endurance
• Increase cadence
• Improve anaerobic threshold/lactate threshold

Interval training can be done for swimming, cycling, running or even strength training. The common thread is “test” and “rest.” Incorporating interval training in your weekly workouts will help you improve your race day performance.

One of the misconceptions about interval training is that it means an “all-out” effort followed by an easy one. While an interval may be an all-out effort it may also be a longer, less intense one too. An interval can be as short as a few seconds to 20 minutes, for example.

There are no hard and fast rules, and mixing up the intensity and time helps your fitness in different ways.

The Swedish term “fartlek” means “speed play” which is a popular form of interval training. Essentially, fartlek training is interval training which is less structured. For example, you might start an interval at a telephone pole and sprint to the mailbox. There are no predetermined distances or intensities. Fartlek helps you mix things up a bit while avoiding some of the boredom associated with some other forms of interval training.

One of the biggest benefits of interval training is that it can boost your anaerobic/lactate thresholds. Anaerobic simply means “without oxygen.” You’re anaerobic when lactic acid builds in your system that it can’t clear and you go into oxygen debt. You can reach your anaerobic capacity doing most exercises at a really hard effort.

The problem is you can’t stay anaerobic for long periods of time. These are short bursts of effort. However, as you “test” your system more you’re able to increase these efforts or lengthen them over time. Therefore, incorporating interval training with other forms of training will increase your fitness and your race performance.

Before attempting interval training you should make sure of several things:

• Your doctor clears you for high-intensity training
• You adequately warm-up (to avoid injury)
• Increase your intensity and duration but not at the same time

While effective interval training can provide lots of benefits it’s not without its risks also. Be sure to back off when things don’t feel right or you’re in any kind of pain. Don’t assume you can “push through” it because you may only make matters worse. Also, be careful not to overuse interval training. Two sessions per week in each event is plenty (two swim, two bike and two run).

Click The Video Below To Take a Peek Inside The Triathica Academy Interval Workouts…

So how is interval training done? There are a number of variables that can be changed-up to create in interval session, including:

• “Test” duration
• “Rest” duration
• Workout duration
• Number of repetitions
• Speed or effort of interval
• Frequency of interval sessions

Here at Triathica we’re big believers in interval training and feel it should be in every triathlete’s training arsenal. I personally used interval training every week in all three events to help me qualify for the Ironman World Championships.

Triathica offers a variety of training options to help you with your training, all of which incorporate interval training.

First, we offer customized training plans based upon your swim, bike and run fitness. Every plan includes detailed interval training tailored to your level of fitness.

We also offer “Power Up!” our cycling DVD. Power Up! is a high-intensity interval workout that will definitely help your cycling performance.

Most recently we’ve added our cycling interval mp3 workouts. Check it out here: http://www.triathlontrainingworkouts.com/. There are four versions aimed at improving your cycling performance and recovery:

• Speed: includes high-cadence efforts to boost speed in the flats
• Power: includes low-cadence efforts to improve hill climbing
• Endurance: includes longer intervals to improve race endurance
• Recovery: easier effort to improve recovery from hard workouts


Check out our training and let us know how we can help.

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Balancing Home Life, Work And Training – Part 1

Every serious athlete struggles to balance home life, work and training. More times than not training loses out. So how can you find the proverbial “balance”? The way I did it was to incorporate interval training into my weekday workouts.

Interval training is essentially a hard effort followed by an easy effort. At Triathica we call this “test and rest.” The test is pushing yourself hard and the rest allows you to regroup before another hard effort. For the “time crunched” athlete you can compress your training into shorter workouts and still get some great results.

Personally, I incorporated two cycling interval workouts on the trainer and two interval workouts on the treadmill every week. I was able to cram about two hours of training into a one hour session and still reap some incredible efforts — efforts that allowed me to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona in 2010!

At the Triathica Academy we’ve developed interval workouts for the bike and run that every athlete can add to their training repertoire. In addition to endurance and strength training, interval workouts round-out the athlete’s training regimen.

Click here to discover how interval training can improve your speed, power, endurance and recovery.

To your success,

Ron Saetermoe


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Ramping Up

This is the time of year we triathletes ramp up for our upcoming season. For some of us there’s a little more ramping up needed than others (if you know what I mean)!

We’re very anxious to return the fitness we had at the peak of our season last year but not so fast! Sure, it would be great to jump right back into those long hard sessions but don’t!

This is the time of year to slowly ramp back up to where you were not jump back in where you left off. If you attempt to you’re likely to encounter one of three problems:

1. Injury
2. Illness
3. Give up

Since you’re body isn’t used to the type of workouts you did during your peak last year you need to start out easier and build to where you were. Too many triathletes try to jump back in and injure themselves by going too hard or too long.

A buddy of mine back east was in a hurry to drop the winter weight and make good on his New Year’s resolution and decided to do a nighttime run. Big mistake! Now it’s quite possible he’ll never run again, or at least the way he used to. He’s got a huge cast on his foot and seven screws holding it together!

Since exercise puts stress on your body illness is another potential problem. Eating right and lots of rest are helpful, as are staying away from sick people and washing your hands a lot, but when you stress your body too much you’re more susceptible to getting sick.

The last, and perhaps worst, problem is giving up entirely. It’s frustrating not to be able to perform the way you used to. However, if you let it get to you and give up you’re never going to get your fitness back.

Here are some tips to getting your fitness back:

1. Start out with an abbreviated number of workouts per week. If you were doing 11, try six.

2. Cut the length of the workouts back. If your long rides were four hours start out with two.

3. Cut the intensity back. If you were hammering at an RPE (rating of perceived exertion) of “8” dial it back to “6” for a while.

4. Reduce the amount of running you do. Running is the hardest on your body. Substitute an additional swim for a run early in the season and build from there.

There’s no rush. Yes, the season is close at hand but you don’t want to blow it before it even gets started.


Ron Saetermoe

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Tri Swim Series, Part 4: Head Position

Why am I writing about head position this week? Seems you’d start at the head and work down, doesn’t it? Actually, I’m approaching this series based on my perception of what’s most important.

I started the series with body position. This is where everything starts and the power is really derived. Last week I talked about the importance of arm position – in my opinion the second most important element. This week I’ll talk about head position.

Improper head position is probably the most common problem I see with triathlon swimmers. And in nearly all cases, the head is too high. However, I have also seen it where the head position is actually too low.

So where should your head be? If you’re reading this sitting up straight in your chair you have the proper head position for freestyle swimming. That’s it! It’s your natural head position when you’re sitting or standing. We call this the “neutral” position.

Our natural tendency when swimming is to try to look where we’re going, particularly when we’re swimming in a pool with other people. We seem to want to see where we’re going so we don’t run into to someone or the end of the pool. It’s natural, but not effective in swimming freestyle.

The “neutral” head position is the fastest and it’s easy to spot from the pool deck. A good swimmer will have the top of the water slightly flowing over the top of their head. You won’t see their forehead and you won’t see their head dipped far below the surface of the water either.

The most important reason you want proper head position is to make sure your body remains flat in the water. As soon as you raise your head up your body will follow, which means your legs will drop down, thereby making you less hydrodynamic. As soon as your head goes into the neutral position your body will flatten out. Amazingly simple isn’t it.

And while it is a bit of a leap of faith that you won’t run into something, in time you’ll get used to swimming this way.

So what about breathing? Again it’s very simple. With your head in the neutral position, turn your head and look over your left or right shoulder. Don’t lift or drop your head, just turn it. That’s it! Again, how simple is that?

You can tell if you’re turning your head properly if when you do only one of your eyes comes out of the water and the other remains under water. Again, this takes some time to get used to because you may be lifting your entire face out of the water again, but one eye out is best.

And finally, what is your head supposed to be doing when it’s in the water? Does it shift from side to side or remain static? Again, very simple. When you’re not breathing your head should remain completely still with your eyes focused nearly straight down.

One of the better swimmers I know is Kevin Koskella, the TriSwimCoach guy. We video taped him and amazed at how still his head was when he wasn’t breathing. Perfectly positioned, and perfectly still. That’s when I started analyzing my head position and found that mine was constantly shifting while I swam.

These days when I swim I’m constantly thinking about my head position and the benefits I get from having a good one.

Triathlon Swimming DVD

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Interview with Dr. Evie Katahdin – Episode 18

In this podcast Ron interviews Evie Katahdin, naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist and founder of AthletiZen, specializing in sports medicine in Orange County, California. She talks about her unique means of attaining wellness. Every triathlete can benefit from her suggestions including proper fueling for performance and injury prevention.

The backbone of her program is Naturopathic Medicine – primary care medicine from a natural perspective. She address all the underlying causes of suboptimal health that hold you back on your casual morning run or your annual Ironman.

To get more information on her practice and how she can help you, please visit her website AthletiZen.com

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