Coach’s Corner

Top tip for swimming

When going swimming always start with a warmup, start off slowly and build speed over about 8 –12 lengths and then do any drills before the main set.

By doing drills when you are fresh, you will not only perform them better but it will also then help your swimming in the main set!

Example Swim Session

  • Warm up with 200m – 400m
  • Drills – focusing on the catch – fists, little fingers, cow horns, normal hands (2 lengths of each)
  • Swim 4 X 200m (if you are a stronger swimmer or want to swim longer 4 X 400m) with 20 seconds of recovery between sets
  • After each 200/400m, swim 4 X 2 lengths fast with paddles with 15 seconds rest
  • 100m easy old English backstroke (or normal backstroke), to stretch out the chest muscles.

Coach’s Corner

Coach’s Corner

In this article, my first as Head Coach at Viceroys, I want to kick off the season with advice not to scare newbies off but equally not to be too light on those of you that are seasoned hard triathletes.  So where do we start?  There is so much information out there now about how to train, what equipment you should have and what races to do.

The thing I see most often when training people is how little preparation they have done before the session.  I am not talking about warming up or what you are wearing, although these are important considerations and we can maybe talk about these things in another post, but planning what the session will involve and what you are going to get out of it!

Some sessions especially club or group sessions you may go into them a bit blind i.e. you aren’t really sure what you are going to be doing other than riding for a certain period of time, or running at the track, or even swimming at the lake.  But having a bit of a plan of what you are aiming to achieve during the session and some quick checks to do before the session will make you get so much more from each session.

One of the most common fails, is checking your bike before each ride. 

How many of you do a M Check before each ride? Why is this important? 

For many they just grab their bike and may press on the tyres to see if the tyres feel a bit soft, before heading out.  Whilst this is part of the M check, if that is all you do then you are winging it every time you go out on a ride.  You could be setting yourself up for an incident.  Also, just because you think your bike is fine or you did a M check on your last ride (so you don’t need to do one again), you need to do it as things do loosen over time and use, especially if you are transporting your bike in a car.

Every single ride I have done with groups this year there has been an issue with a bike.  Normally, someone gets a puncture, but there have been many other issues that are totally preventable which a simple M Check, which takes 2 minutes or less, could have solved.

For those of you that don’t know what a M Check is, it literally is a check over the bike in the shape of the letter M which checks all the major parts of the bike to see if everything is working and in good order. 

M Check Guide

  • You start with the front wheel skewer (the axle that runs through the front wheel that connects your wheel to the front forks of your bike).  Check to see that it is tight.  Ideally the skewer should be locked tight in alignment with the forks.  However, I like to have the skewer facing backwards towards the pedals at 90 degrees so you can get your hand in it easy and quickly release should you get a puncture, and it is easy to then get the wheel off.  If you have disk brakes, then just lifting the front wheel and banging on the top of the tyre to ensure the axle is tight will suffice.
  • Next check the tyre firmness.  Notice I didn’t say pressure, as without a gauge no one will know what the tyre pressure is just by pressing.  What you are looking for is it to be firm.  Any softness you should then maybe get a track pump and apply some air to whatever tyre pressure you are comfortable to ride on and what the tyres can take.  (Clue the air pressure the tyres should be is written in embossed print on the side of the tyre).
  • Next check that the front brake is working by spinning the front wheel forwards and pulling the brake. 
  • Then put both hands on the hoods of the handlebars and press your bodyweight through the hoods.  What you are checking for here is to see whether the handlebars are tight.  You don’t want to find out that they are loose when you are going down a hill!

You have now completed the first part of the M shape – basically a straight line from the skewer to the handlebars.  This should have taken about 20 seconds!

  • Next you are going to move downwards diagonally following the downtube of the bike.  Are the water bottle cages loose?  Just give them a wiggle and check the screws to make sure that they are tight.  Do you have water or electrolyte in your water bottles?  I see many people who don’t go out with a bottle!
  • Then check the cranks (the bits that the pedals attach to).  Just see if you can move them laterally as you shouldn’t be able to.  Then check the pedals are finger tight.  You would not believe how many times peoples pedals come off on rides.  This should be unusual as when you pedal you are tightening the pedals as to loosen you must go backwards, but it does happen.
  • Then we are moving back up the seat tube to the saddle.  Push down on the nose of the saddle whilst pulling up on the rear of the saddle.  Then try moving the saddle side to side.  Any looseness will result in the saddle moving and if it does you need to obviously tighten it.  Once again this is quite a common occurrence for the saddle to move during a ride.  Check any saddle bags are zipped up or lights are tight and are working.
  • Now we are moving down the last part of the M Shape.  Check the rear tyre firmness.  Lift the rear wheel and spin it forwards and check the back brake works and finally check the rear skewer.

This is the M check; however, a few more quick checks will also help you have a hopefully nonissue ride!

Check the bolts on the outside of the large chain ring.  Some people won’t have any depending upon the type of chain rings, but if you can see five bolts on the chain ring just put the end of your finger onto them and see if you can twist them.  You will be able to tell if they are loose and if they are, use an allen key to tighten. 

Check the tyres for any glass, flint, or cracks by gently running your gloved palm (make sure you have gloves on), over the top of the wheel whilst spinning it forwards and closely inspect the tyre as you do so for any debris or cracks.  If you have anything, see if you can fish out the offending material and you could put a bit of superglue in any cracks. 

Finally, check the chain and make sure it is not too loose or worn.  Apply some oil if it is dry, squeaking or you haven’t used your bike for a while. 

All of this should have taken you about 1 – 2 minutes but will ensure you are less likely to have an issue and make your ride smoother and more fun.

In the next coaching tip, I will explore what you should be asking yourself about each training session to get the most out of it.  If you have any questions or ideas of what you would like to be included in the future, please let me know.

Happy training!


Perfect Cadence

Today’s coaches corner is very unique as its a topic that covers all three disciplines: Perfect cadence.

What’s is cadence?
Cadence is simply the number of actions taken during the course of a minute. This will either be pedal strokes on the bike, strokes taken in the pool over a certain distance or number of steps per minute running.

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Post Race Reflections

Thought today’s coaches corner would be very appropriate to all those who have raced recently and help aid those racing soon. Today’s coaches corner is about Post Race Reflection.

It’s very easy straight after a race to over analyse your performance and reflect in a negative way. We are all competitive in our own ways, whether with with outcome goals such as winning you age group, event or performance based such as looking to improve on your previous race splits or looking to set a PB at a given race. Taking a step back and a few hours, even days will help you better to reflect upon your performance.

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Zwift Island

Today’s coaches corner looks once more at how to make those long rides on the training bike / turbo / WattBike more bearable.

In a previous coaches corner I gave you a number of ways to break up that long run alternate on the turbo trainer / WattBike when the weather means you can’t go outside. Yes you could ride outside in the wet conditions, but naturally there’s a greater risk of injury and therefore you might take the session too easy and negate the benefits of your endurance ride. At the moment you have to sign up and then wait for your invite. They are consistently adding new content and they have recently changed the island. Its free at the moment but I guess it will be subscription based at some point.

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Cold Weather Racing

Today’s coaches corner by Peter Bell asks how we should prepare for those early races where the weather is still cold – both in the water & on the bike.

Racing in cold whether can be more detrimental that you can imagine. Your body will use vital energy to keep you warm. A reduction in the body’s temperature can as we know lead to hypothermia which is not uncommon in races where simple mistakes are made in the name of ‘hardness’. You should always have in your kit bag certain items of kit to help combat those variations in weather so that you can have a great day in the office Continue reading

Hills & Flat Riding

Today coaches corner is all about the merits of hills and / or riding the flats. Why and when will aid you towards achieving your goal.

Winter hills: winter is all about building that strong base. Making your legs stronger will aid you come the increase in intensity during the season. Riding hills takes practice, knowing what gear to use, what cadence range, how much power you should be generating. Either way, riding hills will make you stronger. BUT if you only ever do hills, then will lose that cutting edge which riding the faster fasts can do, (see below).

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Cycling Calls

Today’s coaches corner is all about Calls when cycling.
The louder the better when riding. Shouting out information will give all those who are riding within group the correct information they might need to make adjustments in their riding.
Knowing what to shout and why is key to a safe and enjoyable ride. Never be afraid to shout loud – you will kick yourself for not shouting loud enough if something was to happen!

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