This section will contain advice on training and specific workouts to try.  Advice on swim, bike and run are included as well as more triathlon specific brick training and ideas on nutrition.

One Leg drills to pedal stronger

Mel’s Rad Coaching Minutes: One Leg Pedaling

This bike-skills focused coaching minute discusses taking a relatively common drill – one leg pedaling – and adds some functional challenges to it. When you ride the trainer and pedal with one leg, your bike is stable. This means the stabilizing muscles of the opposite (not pedaling) leg do not have to fire to keep your bike upright and heading forward. Similarly, a lot of upper body twisting and pulling is masked when the bike is bolted into a trainer.

In the winter, you can make this drill more effective by switching to rollers. If you can ride outside, choose a hill of 5-8% or a big gear, and test your stability while pedaling one-legged.  Both of these options create a more realistic instability on the bike to challenge your pedaling mechanics.  You want to be able to one leg pedal as efficiently as you can with both.  Using this drill, you will become much more aware of where you are inefficient in the pedalstroke.

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2019 Tri The Dirt Bear Mountain

The second iteration of Tri The Dirt Bear Mountain is coming April 27-29, 2019!  We are again partnering with Adam Walker and The Cycling Co to bring you world class technical coaching for all of your offroad skills!

Tri The Dirt Square Logo

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2018 Tri The Dirt XTERRA Victoria

Tri The Dirt XTERRA Victoria

Signup is open for TRI THE DIRT XTERRA Victoria and our second edition is going to be EVEN BETTER!  This camp is specifically focused on the XTERRA Victoria course and athletes who have signed up for XTERRA Victoria race save $25 and alumni from Tri The Dirt Bear Mountain save an additional $25!  We are rolling out the 2018 Tri The Dirt team gear so if you want to be part of the first year of TTD sign up quickly.

Tri The Dirt XTERRA Victoria edition is June 8-10!  You should plan to be in Victoria for a 5:30pm open water swim session on Friday night June 8.  The camp will run to approximately 4pm on Sunday June 10 with full days on Saturday and Sunday.  The final itinerary will be out in two weeks time.

The sign up INCLUDES TAX this time around 🙂

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 Video Preview

Whether you are a beginner who is just starting your adventures on the dirt or a veteran looking to find more free speed TRI THE DIRT is the camp for you!  This is also an excellent opportunity for riders to come to familiarize with the course and receive coaching on how to best race at this venue.  This is a NON COMPETITIVE skills based camp.  This is not about smashing yourselves with exertion, it is about mindful improvement through better execution.  Everyone will improve and will swim/bike/run/transition at their level.  The learning environment is positive, fun, and confidence building.  NO ONE GETS DROPPED and NO ONE FEELS LIKE THEY ARE WAITING!

The camp will all be based at Durrance Lake where the XTERRA Victoria event will be held.  This camp is skills based, so all of the training will be focused on technique, but will also include a thorough preview of the courses.

We will teach you skills to tackle what you will encounter at XTERRA Victoria – roots, rock rolls, hills, and tight corners.  All of these obstacles require nailing the basic skills of mountain biking and some good run technique.  You will leave the camp with the knowledge of how to train to be better at this sport – not just fitter.  Offroad racing rewards technically sound athletes – so we will make you technically better at swimming, biking, running, and transitioning.

Why Tri The Dirt—> See HERE

The camp will start with an OPEN WATER BUOY session.  This session will be in wetsuits at this time of the year.  Sighting, turns, pack swimming, and entry/exits of the water will be covered.

open water swim coaching

Then there will be a run clinic on AGILITY and UP/DOWNHILL running.  Mountain bike skills clinics will start with the basics and we will progress to some common maneuvers that incorporate all of the skills.

Tri The Dirt mountain bike skills coaching

Learn skills appropriate for YOUR LEVEL that make you a more confident rider

Also included in the camp will be a session on nutrition, transitions, and a tech session on suspension and tires.

This camp is supported by Clif Bar so we will have snacks on hand to avoid any hangry incidents…and at the end of the camp there will be an all out rock/paper/scissors war for prizes from Rudy Project.  We didn’t say it was all non-competitive!

Lunch will be provided! (as long as you are stoked on a massive Red Barn sandwich, cookie, and a drink because that is really all we can offer at this venue!)

Looking forward to meeting you all at Tri The Dirt.  Space is limited… so don’t delay.

 

Melanie McQuaid mountain biking XTERRA Ogden

Off-road Triathlon Technical Skills

Off-road Triathlon Technical Skills

(Previously published in the print edition of  Triathlon Magazine Canada)

Working on technical skills is important if mixing some off road triathlon in an otherwise paved season is in your race plans  Off road racing technical skills are important as the course is a challenge in itself.  Once you have the technical skills in place you can then plan your strategy to best the competition.

mountain bike penticton three blind mice trails

The trails were technical and fun at ITU Cross Triathlon Worlds.

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2017 December Swim Run Camp

On December 16-17th, MelRad Racing is hosting a swim and run camp in Victoria, BC.  You might be thinking: “Why the heck would I want to go train hard RIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS?” or “I’m not interested in training before Christmas.”  Those are fair comments and I get that it is hard to do camps when racing is a LONG WAY AWAY but I am going to explain why I think this camp is valuable at this point in the year.

The December Swim and Run Camp Schedule

Swim run camp schedule
Schedule for December swim run camp

The Objective

This camp is not about mileage, fitness, or testing.  Instead, the goal is to instill habits, knowledge, movement patterns, and understanding.  Athletes need to know where their gaps in competency exist.   A coach can tell you “you need to work on your swim” or you can say yourself “I wish I swam faster” but that isn’t identifying the gap.

There are a lot of reasons swimming can be challenging.  Lack of shoulder mobility, lack of strength in your back, lats, or triceps, incorrect pull in the water, incorrect breath timing, or finally (there are a lot more but I’m trying to keep the word count down) it could be fitness that holds you back. Doing one-arm drills with shoulders that can’t reach an effective pull is not going to effect change on your swimming (meaning drills will be a waste of your time).

The Swimming

There are three swim workouts in the camp.  Each session includes dryland strength and mobility.  There will be three different workouts addressing three aspects of swim fitness: technique, turnover, and strength.  I will teach you what the difference is between these different workouts and why you need all of them this time of year.  Notice there is no testing and no threshold.  We will discuss the foundation of swim fitness and how it is achieved in order to build toward race specific fitness in another phase of training later in the year.

december swim run camp details
Training for triathlon swimming is different than training for pool swimming. Most of the time you are going to be in a wetsuit. This camp addresses that key factor in determining WHAT TO WORK ON.

The Running

The second objective of this camp is addressing running form***.  The most impact of all three sports in triathlon on your body comes from running.  Most triathletes have paid to have a bike fit but next to none have  had any run form analysis.  Most people think they know how to run, but don’t-full stop.  Many people do not understand HOW to run.. they just go out and move their legs at a pace faster than walking.  With little to no run form knowledge there is exposure to significant injury through poor biomechanics.

Triathletes often think they get injured from doing too much speed work and in some cases this is true – but it may not be the speed session itself that is the problem.  I would argue that more athletes get injured because their slow runs are not slow enough and/or when they are really slow, their form is bad and introduces risk of injury.  As we head into the first phase of base training, doesn’t it make sense to get some work on HOW we run?

This swim and run camp is going to address how to run EASY (a feeling – not a pace is the perfect definition from my friend Marilyn Arsenault) with an awareness of the things you should ALWAYS be thinking about when you are running easy.  All running requires conscious thought and engagement.

On Saturday, we are doing a workout with short hills that will introduce how to run WELL, and how to incorporate this work into your program.  Finally, we will cap a great weekend of training with a long run/hike on Sunday in the beautiful trails in Victoria using what we learned about being conscious of our form during all of our running.

We will also being having a fun camp dinner on Saturday night.  Whether you are focused on Ironman, short course, or XTERRA, this swim and run camp for triathletes is a great foundation clinic on how to approach your workouts to make the most of them in the new year and how to take steps to improve your weaknesses in swim and run.

learn some strength techniques at dec swim and run camp
Skipping on one leg is excellent for building specific strength for running – I will teach you how to get stronger with more injury resistance.

How To Sign Up

There are a couple spots left for athletes at this December swim and run camp for triathletes- you don’t have to be coached by me – and the fee for the weekend is $175.  If you are interested in taking one of the spots you are more than welcome.   Contact me through email through the contact form on this site or at www.facebook.com/melradracing.

 

***Actually changing how you run takes a long time.  This camp with introduce how to start but an EXCELLENT program for athletes constantly struggling with injuries and lack of progress is MINDFUL STRIDES with Marilyn Arsenault.  I can introduce you to some of the concepts of run form in this camp and would refer you to Marilyn for a more in-depth overhaul of your running.

skipping rope for triathlon training

Plyometrics for triathlon training

Plyometrics for triathlon training

Whether you race cross triathlon or Ironman, you should be using plyometrics for triathlon training.  A beginner to advanced triathlon training program should include some plyometrics to improve form, economy, and durability, and a functional strength program.

Plyometrics for triathlon training benefits include:

  • Greater durability/injury resistance
  • Eccentric overloading helps with downhill running and agility
  • Improves speed without training sprint work
  • Improves running form and economy (decreases ground contact time)

How plyometrics are beneficial

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Video to explain using swim cords

How To Use Swim Cords To Get More Out Of Your Swim Training

I made the following video describing how to incorporate stretch cords into your swim routine.  Many professional triathletes use swim cords as part of their warm up on race day.  This is only one of three ways the cords are beneficial and I outline in the video below how to use swim cords for triathlon training.

use swim cords for triathlon training

Swim cords (or stretch cords) are an effective way to get a good dryland swim specific warmup, improve technique, and build power/strength.

How to use swim cords in your triathlon training:

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don't give up

The 12 Weeks Broken Ankle Recovery Video Update

The 12 Week Broken Ankle Recovery Update

It has been 12 weeks to the day since I had my bike accident and broke my ankle.  In this 12 week video update, I share a bit about the people that have helped me get back to speed so quickly and kept my attitude in check.  Staying positive and engaged in the process of recovery has been the key to getting back in shape quickly.

don't give up

Simple.

This injury has helped redefine and motivate my desire to race.  I feel like I am among a new generation of athletes who continue to race into their 40s and remain competitive as elites.  This isn’t “normal” and there is certainly some resistance to this notion.  Although I am more of an outlier at the moment, I don’t think this will always be the case.

I am thankful to have great sponsors and supporters who believe that fast after 40 means REALLY FAST.  I love the idea of helping to define what that is and work hard to set the bar as high as possible.  I look to my contemporaries, athletes like Jo Pavey and Gunn-Rita Dahle, who are competing as top level elites in their sports (running and mountain biking) to help me decide what level I plan to compete at.  The top level.

I am still looking at Kona in 2017.

Looking forward to setting some new benchmarks this season.

Thanks for following along.

xoxo  Melanie ???

 

 

Tips to help recover faster from triathlon training

 

Things You Can Do To Help Speed Your Recovery

Your body will not be ready to do another workout if it hasn’t adequately recovered from the last one.  In between hard workouts, pro athletes will take some steps to speed up their recovery – like completing active recovery workouts – to make sure their body is loose and adequately rested to handle the stress of another hard session.  Training is a process of stringing together sessions that challenge the body.  In between the challenging sessions the athlete needs to do everything possible to get ready for another one.  Here are some common practices to improve the process of recovery.

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Coach Mel: 60 Minute Workout – Four Minute Hills

This session was originally posted online with Triathlon Magazine Canada September 16, 2014 at http://triathlonmagazine.ca/racing/profiles/sixty-minute-bike-workout-mels-max-hill-reps/

2013 Utah champs

 With the XTERRAWorld Championships coming up for some of us, this week’s 60 minute training session focuses on working your maximum climbing power.  You can do it on the trainer or use a short hill that allows you to climb for a minimum of four minutes at maximum effort.  Your heart rate should reach over 90 per cent of your maximum by the end so don’t be afraid to really go for it.

 

Warmup (10 minutes):

Start with a 10 minute warmup slowly increasing cadence as you ride.  In the last five minutes increase cadence by  five rpm per minute up to the maximum cadence you can hold (aim for 130 rpm or more) in a relatively easy gear or low wattage:  something like 39 x 17 or 100 watts on the Powerbeam.

 

Final warm up preparation (10 minutes):

You can do these accelerations uphill or use the trainer to increase watts.  For a continuous 10 minutes, complete 15 second accelerations uphill or at high watts on the trainer, recovering for 1:45 after each.  Repeat five times.

 

Main Set (28 minutes):

The workout is a simple 4 x 4 minutes set with 3 minutes of recovery after every interval.  Push the hardest gear you can maintain at 80-90 rpm.

Don’t let your cadence drop below 80 rpm and try to keep at least the same gear or harder for each successive effort. If you’re on the trainer, hold your best average watts and be sure the last set is not lower than the first. You may want to start a bit conservative then blow the doors off the last one.   If you’re using a powermeter, these are meant to be above threshold efforts.

 

Finish (12 minutes):

Warm down is 12 minutes.  Ride the first five minutes at 120 rpm in a very easy gear to spin the legs out then easy warm down as you choose.

Visualize crushing the steep, stair-step climbs on the Maui course if you are preparing for Xterra.  The steep sections of the climbs on that course are between two and four minutes long before it flattens out slightly, so finding your max four minute efforts will be useful for that race.