triathlon_article_Dont_always_rely_on_Gadget_totrain

Don't always rely on "Gadgets" to train

By Tripp Norton, USAT Certified Coach, Owner of Endure 3 Sports, www.endure3sports.com.

Triathlon resource The journey to becoming a “triathlete” is a usually one that encounters learning more about ourselves physically and mentally. As we grow as triathletes so does the need or want for more sophisticated gadget/gear that aids in this progression. Usually it means that we purchase a new bike, power meter, or even a heart rate monitor. While the excitement of obtaining the latest and greatest gadget might be exhilarating it can become a limiter in terms of relying on these gadgets to train and monitor progress instead of going off feel.

A fellow coach of mine recently competed in an Ironman event in which he used his Garmin primarily to monitor all his training. For those of you who do not know, a Garmin is a GPS device that measures almost every output one could think of such as heart rate, speed, the time, cadence, etc. He trained with his Garmin and relied heavily on the output he received during training. His plan for race day was simple…used the Garmin to calculate when to fuel up and eat during the race, use the Garmin to tell him when to speed up, slow down based on his heart rate or to pick up cadence etc. This plan was a good one up until the point when the Garmin was kicked off his wrist during the swim portion of the Ironman. Now that he lost his monitoring system he had to go off of feel except there was one problem, he had not trained off feel during his training so how was he going to do that? He did finish but needless to say it was a very long day.

If there is on thing you should learn as a new triathlete is how to train and race on feel or Rate of Perceived Excretion (RPE), because you never know when your new gadget might fail you. This is especially true for someone who is moving from the sprint to an Olympic or Half Ironman distance. My suggestion would be to train at least once to twice per week without using your heart rate monitor or GPS device if you have one. And when you do train with them make mental notes on how you feel in given heart rate zones. A good mental game to play is to guess what heart rate zone you are in on those training days where you use heart rate monitors. Take note as to how you are breathing, how you feel, and what pace you are riding or running at. Below is a chart for RPE. Use it, follow it, and make training fun by trying to guess what zone you are in. If you master the art of racing on feel rather than what your heart rate monitor tells you, you will find that you are more in-touch with what your body is telling you which will lead to a better race day experience.

Zone Approx % of

max HR

Rate of Perceived Exertion Race/Traning Event How am

I breathing?

1 All day low

intensity
activity

50-60% Easy

<4.0

Very Mild Increase in Breathing if any
2 All day moderate intensity
activity
61-70% Easy to moderate

4-5

Noticeable Increase in Breathing
3 Events
lasting3-5 hrs
71-80% Moderate

5-6

Noticeable Increase in Breathing but able to have conversation
4 Events
lasting< 2 hrs
81-85% Moderate to Hard 7-8 Noticeable Increase in depth/rate of breathing, Difficulty talking in full sentences
5a Events lasting

< 1 hr

86-90% Hard

8-8.5

Unable to talk at all, Gasping slightly for breath
5b Events/intervals lasting 3-10 min 91-95% Very Hard

8.5-9

Unable to talk at all, Gasping slightly for breath
5c Events/intervals lasting < a

few min

96-100% Extremly

Hard >9

Unable to talk at all, Gasping slightly for breath

It is worth mentioning that you must first establish you max heart rate. There are many different method to establish heart rate zones which can be found on the Internet. Most of the methods out there are a good starting point for the beginner but if you are an experienced triathlete you may want to get tested by a professional. Remember, cycling and running have different max heart rates, so you will want to keep this in mind when establishing yours.

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