Tag Archive for tim berkel triathlete

Stay Cool and Staying Aero

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I’ll be talking more about the importance of aero and the things I try and do to ensure I have the edge over my opponents in the coming weeks. Being aerodynamically optimal needs to take into consideration your position and equipment, but also factors like comfort and hydration. Another one of these factors for racing is thermoregulation, something which was vitally important in my recent trip to Ironman Melbourne.

Anyone that was at Ironman Melbourne can attest to the extremes in temperatures seen throughout the day. It was single digits when we started in Frankston, and low 30’s (approx 90f) when I crossed the finish line. It was ridiculously hot at some stages. One of the great things about my Scody Optimise AIR tri suit is that as much as it is aero, it is probably the most cooling suit I have ever worn. The sleeves provide added sun protection, and the fabric retains a very small amount of moisture to help cool me down. With this in mind, I do have some tips for everyone racing in the heat, ensuring you stay cool whilst in no way compromising your speed and performance.

  1. Trick your mind. Much of our perception of the heat is a central nervous system response, proactively protecting the body. We can actually deal with a lot more fluctuations in heat than you would realise, we just have to trick the mind. A couple of ways I did this at Ironman Melbourne was wearing my Oakleys to create a sense of shade, and putting ice in sensitive areas such as hands, tops of my head, and well, ahh, the genitals.
  2. It’s not about flappy clothes. It’s a little bit of a myth that flappy or baggy clothes are cooler in hot weather. All they will do is slow you down as they are extremely susceptible to drag. What you need is ventilation in key areas that will take on as much wind flow as possible, whilst offering no aerodynamic disadvantage. On my tri suit I have a fabric known as Dynamic Mesh through the side panels, and a front zip that when down give me complete cooling on the run.
  3. Thin is good. I have been fortunate to learn quite a lot from the guys from Scody. One of these is the importance they place on thin fabric. Basically, the thinner the fabric, the less restriction to heat transfer. If you feel clammy and restricted across the chest in your current suit, it probably uses fabrics that are too thick for your needs.

Staying down, all the time
Keeping on the aerodynamics theme, it’s important to touch on the need to be able to prepare the body to get in these contorted positions, and stay there. It’s a huge ask on the body and definitely doesn’t come naturally. There is no point wearing the best tri suit Scody has, and having to come out of my “optimal” position all the time because my back cannot handle it. Apart from practising holding this position in training, during the countless long rides and interval sets Gilsey gets me to do, I also spend a lot of time in the gym strengthening and stabilising. Look, you may already be doing this, and if you do then awesome. If you don’t, have a look at the exercises that I do as they will probably help you stay as aero as possible in your next race.
Bridge
What it works: Transverse abdominus (TA), Lower Back, Shoulders
Why it works: Helps with maintaining position during long rides and time trials.
How to do it: Come up onto your toes and forearms, keeping back flat.

Side Bridges
What it works: Transverse abdominus and obliques
Why it works: Improves pelvic stability, reducing lazy hips when fatigued
How to do it: On your side. Raise your bottom off the floor, keeping your side straight.

Bicycle
What it works: Transverse abdomius, Rectus Abdominus, Hip flexors
Why it works: Improves pedal efficiency with activation of core muscles during hip flexion and extension.
How to do it: On back. Touch elbow to opposite knee, the alternate, fast.

Ground Climbing
What it works: Transverse abdomnus, rectus abdominus, hip flexors
Why it works: Like the bicycle, only this time more dynamic!
How to do it: On all fours, alternate one leg forward, one leg back. Fast!

Thoracic Extensions
What it works: Thoracic spine and erector spinae
Why it works: Prevents stiffness caused by prolonged positioning, reducing reliance on hips
How to do it: On your back with a tightly rolled towel between shoulder blades and waist.

Now that you are ready to be more aero, I have a great offer for you. For a limited time, my great friends at Scody have provided me a discount that I can share with you. All you need to do is use TIM2015 on the  checkout for a 10% discount on any made to order kits. Of course you should be buying mine, right? :)

Photo: R. Dobson

IM Melbourne – Great Result…But A Tough Day At The Office

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Yesterday was an epic day in Melbourne. It’s funny in this triathlon game. Some days you go out to race and as hard and painful as it is, you feel good. Mentally, you’re in the zone and the race just flows. Sometimes though, it’s just a tough day at the office. And that’s certainly how things went down for me at IM Melbourne.

Here’s how the race for the Asia-Pacific Championship unfolded…

Swim

It was a nippy start down at the Frankston pier- about 12 degrees, but felt a little colder with the wind. Thank goodness the water temp in Port Phillip Bay is still up a bit.

I had a good start, stuck with the front group and didn’t let off, but started to sting pretty early on in the swim. Something wasn’t quite right with my back and that kept going all day. The back end of the swim was tough. As always, my aim was to stick with the front group in the swim, but we ended up in single file and pretty stretched out. I came in at 48:06.

Congrats to Marko Albert, who broke the course swim record by 4 seconds with a split of 45:18.

Ride

My back was very tight getting on the bike- I found it hard to stay on the saddle and I was 2:35 off the pace. I knew I had some serious work to do.

Nils (Nils Frommhold) and Luke Bell were out in front and the second group included Sticksy (Brad Kahlefeldt) and Marko. I was in the third chase group with Robbo and Cal (Peter Robertson and Callum Millward). The guys out front set a blistering pace. Conditions were great out on the Eastlink Motorway – Melbourne certainly delivered on the promise of a fast bike leg. When we hit the turnaround point and headed into Lap 2, Nils and Luke still had about 4 minutes on us.

I felt like we were losing time and by the 135km mark Nils and Luke Bell had a 9-minute lead – they were certainly cranking it out. When it got to 40km to go, my back was feeling alright, so I thought I’d just give it some stick and see how I felt. I was surprised when no one went with me.

I went hard and got off the bike at 05:15:23. Nils had come in at 05:04:36 with Luke not far behind. Now they had more than a 10-minute lead which I needed to reel in.

Run

I was really hurting and it’s times like this that you realise 80% of triathlon is about the mental game. You don’t know how the guys in front are travelling, you just know that you need to keep going and persevere. And that can be tougher on a point-to-point course, like the one in Melbourne, because there are no turnarounds so often you can’t see who you’re chasing.

After 15km Nils still had 9:30 but at the17km mark I ran into 2nd place. After really pushing it, Luke Bell had imploded and was walking. I went past him with Sticksy on my tail and he had Jeffrey Symonds on his.

By 21km Nils was 6:30 ahead and I was starting to reel him in. Jeff and Sticksy were hanging in there behind me. At 25km, I just put the pedal down and by the 30km things started to get really interesting. The race was really on!

If you read my last post, you’ll know that I had a Plan B- if things got ugly at this stage of the race. I was going to drop in to Luke Bell’s place for a cold one (his street is right at the 30km marker). Let me tell you – that was a pretty attractive option, but it didn’t happen!

I was in 2nd place but I wasn’t exactly sure how far ahead Nils was. Then someone said he was just around the corner and sure enough, all of a sudden, there he was. I could see he was slowing and couldn’t hold the pace. By this stage, Sticksy had dropped off and now it was down to Jeff Symonds and I.

Over the line

I took the lead with 13km to go and then Jeff and I had a real ding-dong battle. All credit to him – he was running my legs off and I was in a world of pain. I ended up running my quickest marathon, but it wasn’t enough. Towards the end Jeff turned the screws and it was all over for me.

Obviously, I’m more than happy with a 2nd against a tough field and it’s a great step on the road to Kona. Congratulations to Jeff Symonds on a top effort and a great result.

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Like I said, for me – it was a tough day at the office. But that’s triathlon – I’m glad I stuck it out. Ultimately, persistence builds mental strength – strength that you need to achieve any worthwhile goal. And the good thing is, I’m validated for Kona and I earned some extra points along the way.

Thanks

As tough as it can be, slogging it out on the course, results like this don’t happen without support. So-

  • Thanks to the guys at Giant in Hampton for tuning up the beast – it’s a sweet ride!
  • As always, thanks to all my sponsors – I appreciate the fact that you’ve got my back and give me the freedom to do what I do.
  • To the IM Melbourne team – you ran a great event. I heard lots of good things about the coverage. Keep up the good work!
  • And as always, thanks to my coach Gilesy for the ‘gentle’ encouragement you provided along the way. Thanks mate!

And finally, special congratulations to everyone who made it through their first Ironman – you’re bloody champions, well done!

Photo: Korupt Vision

Happy and hungry in Melbourne

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Two more sleeps until Ironman Melbourne…

Happy…
I was sitting in the press conference earlier today with literally some of the greatest athletes in Triathlon. It’s both humbling and exciting to be up there with these guys and girls. The women’s field for IM Melbourne is very, very strong, so watch out for an exciting and hard-fought race with some fast times going down.

When it comes to the men, I think it’s also going to be a big race. I’m going in there as the #2 seed, behind German Nils Frommhold. The last time I saw Nils on the course, I was in a world of pain! It was at Kona and I was working hard at holding it together in the last few kms of the run after having the stuffing kicked out of me going through the Energy Lab. Cramping badly, I watched Nils pass me to take 6th place in the 2014 IM World Championship.

Sitting next to me, in front of the Press was another legend of Triathlon, Luke Bell. This guy has had an epic career. After 14 years he’s still going like a steam train- it’s inspiring to see how he keeps on keeping on.

Overall, I feel that life is good! I’m happy to be here in Melbourne competing with these guys, plus some good up-and-comers. It’s going to be a great race- whatever the conditions turn out to be on the day… and that could be literally anything!

Hungry…
I’ve been working hard for this race. After Kona last year, IM Melbourne has been my main focus and I’ve certainly put in the hard yards over the last 6 weeks in particular. Mentally and physically I’m feeling well-prepared. I haven’t had any issues with sickness or injury, so I’m raring to go this weekend.

It’s been a while since I’ve had an IM win and I’m hungry to get on that podium. And I’d love to do it here in Melbourne. The hard work’s done, I’m fully prepared and on Sunday morning the plan is not to over-think, but just to stay loose, let things flow, give it my best shot and have fun. And I guess, worst case scenario… Luke Bell’s place is at the 30km mark of the run. If things get too tough, I can always stop in there for a cold, refreshing brew on the way through!

Good luck to everyone competing in Melbourne. See you at the finish line!

Melbourne on my mind

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A couple of weeks ago, I was back on home turf, running and riding around Port Macquarie with my old mate Robbo. And I had one thing on my mind – Ironman Melbourne.

IM Melbourne is definitely on my list of challenges to conquer and it’s really my first serious race since Kona last year. I’ve been working hard over the last couple of months, both physically and mentally, to get prepared for it. And it’s a great course- a single lap for the swim, two laps for the bike on a freeway and then the run leg takes us all the way up Beach Rd from Frankston to St Kilda.

Pushing it in Port
Training has been going well. Down in Port, Robbo and I put in some solid days on the bike- in fact, that was really our focus for the week, getting some kms into our legs in preparation for the Melbourne course on March 22nd. Had a couple of great days (180km one day, 212km another) going over some of my old training rides and hitting some of the hills out the back of Port Macquarie. Great for building power and aerobic capacity and all good practice for Melbourne.

The IM Melbourne bike leg runs along the Eastlink freeway, which they close off for the day. It’s probably one of the best surfaces we get to ride on in IM competition and it’s certainly flat and fast. A good bike split is going to be critical for success in Melbourne.

Prepared for anything
Last time I was in Melbourne, earlier this year, the weather was brutal! Very choppy swim conditions, then sidewinds and rain for the rest of the race. We even had athletes pulling out with hypothermia! But that’s Melbourne for you – you never know quite what you’re going to get and often it’s four seasons in one day. You’ve got to be prepared for anything and everything.

And I think that’s the key – preparation. My aim when I race is to be able to stay present in the moment – being in the zone or in a state of ‘flow’, whatever you want to call it. The more prepared I am, the easier it is to get into that state and the less distracted I am by other stuff.

It’s about physical preparation- knowing that I’ve done the hard work, but it’s also about the practical stuff – nutrition, hydration, confidence in my gear, etc. Get the nuts and bolts stuff sorted and then it’s easier to focus on the mental game, which is where races are won. Before a race, I work on staying relaxed and loose, so that I can take that into the water with me.

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Good luck to everyone competing in Melbourne. I’ll see you at the finish!

Nothing comes between me and my Optimise A.I.R.

Tim Van Berkel (AUS)TRIATHLON - Ironman Cairns 70.3 / Cairns Airport Adventure Festival - Palm Cove - Captain Cook Highway - Cairns Esplanade - Cairns - Queensland - Australia - 2014

I’ve been racing for a few years now (that makes me wise… not old!) and the more you race, in all kinds of conditions, the more you understand what really works for you. That applies to training programs, race tactics and especially to gear.

Challenge Australia Ironman - Melbourne

For example, the ideal triathlon race suit is high-tech, incorporates state-of-the-art fabrics and is designed by the best brains in the business using the latest research. It looks cool and keeps you cool, protects you from the sun, cuts drag and helps you to perform at your best. Ideally, it’s like a second skin – it’s so comfortable, you don’t even notice it’s there.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Scody triathlon race suits. My relationship with Scody goes back a long way. Like their race suits, Scody exists on the cutting edge – of technology, of expertise and of innovation. And that’s allowed me to keep pushing the envelope of performance – competing comfortably and confidently in my custom Optimise A.I.R. Triathlon race suit. It looks good, feels good and gives me the freedom I need to do what I do.

The only difference between Scody and their race suits? Sometimes I forget the race suit is there… but Scody – I’m always aware that they’re in my corner. I’ve appreciated their support in the past and so I’m really excited today to be announcing their continuing sponsorship into the future. Thanks guys!

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Even Giant-er!

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You may remember, last November, that I was very excited to announce that I’d re-signed with Giant for at least another two years. I had a chuckle when Kelly Minahan (on Facebook) thought that I’d ‘resigned’ not ‘re-signed’. Two very different things! Relax, Kelly, it’s all good!

I’m proud to be associated with Giant, so I was even more excited recently when they sent through a draft of their Press Release. I’ll let you read it for yourself…

Press Release – Tim Berkel

Awesome stuff! In response, I just want to say a public thank you to the team at Giant. Thanks for your continuing support, not to mention the promotion – moving up to global athlete status sounds impressive!

Seriously though, I’m loving the Giant Trinity Advanced SL and I’ve got no hesitation in recommending Giant gear to anyone who is serious about riding the best – you guys are at the cutting-edge. And I know you’re always working hard to stay ahead of the game- doing your best for all your riders, sponsored or not.

I look forward to working with the Giant engineers and designers to see what we can come up with in the future. I know there are already some cool things in the pipeline. Exciting times!

So, go hard… and ride Giant.

Wetter But Better at Challenge Melbourne

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Twelve months ago in Melbourne we were swimming in a calm, clear Bay, speeding along picturesque Beach Rd and fighting dehydration. And I finished the day standing on top of the podium. Last Sunday Melbourne showed its ugly side – we slogged through half a metre of chop, raced through heavy rain and gusting winds… and fought hypothermia. Talk about a contrast!

I was disappointed not to have been able to defend my Challenge Melbourne title, but my 2015 result was definitely a step in the right direction and a big step in my preparation for the IM Asia-Pacific Championship back in Melbourne on March 22. Here’s how my race went down…

Swim

It was dark, overcast and there was a howling on-shore wind whipping up the chop on the Bay for the start of the swim leg. Conditions were rough and visibility in the water was really low. Obviously it’s hard to maintain good technique when you’re constantly trying to avoid sucking in a mouthful of delicious Port Phillip Bay water. I sat in the main group, coming out not too far behind the three guys in the front – which including Clayton (Fettell) who ended up having great swim and bike legs.

Bike

Despite the assurances from the commentator that ‘Things are going to fine up… just wait and see!’, the rain set in and was continual through the ride. The wind was coming off the Bay, swirling around in some places to create a serious headwind at times. The combo of rain and wind certainly took its toll on some of the competitors, with Luke Bell retiring in lap 2 of the bike leg. Spectators said he’d turned blue and was shaking with the cold. The wind chill factor can certainly suck your energy in a big way.

With visibility so limited it was hard to keep track of who was where and how far ahead they were. And I definitely had to keep my wits about me when turning – wet roads and lots of competitors can be a dangerous combination if you’re not onto it all the time.

I didn’t feel like I had a great bike leg (2:13) but entered into T2 around 6th and about 3 minutes off the pace.

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Run

After getting buffeted on the bike it was good to get out on the run. I started off well and felt really good. Matt Reed took off hard and then Robbo took off. By the end of the first lap I was still only 3:30 back from Griffo, but starting to drop back.

It’s a tough run course, especially when you’re running through the single-track areas. Fortunately running in the wind didn’t bother me, because it was howling!

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The Bottom Line

I finished up coming in 6th with a time of 03:54:06. Of course, I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to defend my title, but in terms of my preparation for IM Melbourne the race has served me very well. Plans for the Asia-Pacific Championship are progressing nicely, but I know there’s still a lot of work to do before then.

Despite the crap weather, Challenge Melbourne was definitely a worthwhile outing. Congratulations to Griffo for a well-deserved win in very trying conditions. And thanks to the Challenge Melbourne team for putting it all together. Good job, guys!

Oh, and a special thank you to the guys from First Off The Bike who tweeted about my ‘coordinated colours’. A bloke’s got to look good out on the bike, right.

Back in Melbourne for some good weather and racing

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Sunday is Challenge Melbourne and I’m looking forward to heading south to defend my title. Mind you, you always feel like a bit of a marked man in these situations!

Auckland was a bit of a shocker, but the last few weeks have been really good, getting my head together and just getting back into the routine. I definitely feel a whole lot better prepared than I was for my last race.

The Melbourne course is great – very fast swim and bike legs. Water temp at Brighton will be around 20˚C and the weather prediction is warm but not too hot. Mind you, Melbourne is well known for serving up four seasons in one day. Last year it was really hot. This year – well, we won’t really know until we’re racing and even then it can change. Just got to be prepared for anything.

The ride is three laps along Beach Road – it’s undulating, fast and it’s a classic spot for Melbourne cyclists. The run leg heads out towards Sandringham and is a bit different. Most of the way it sticks pretty close to the beach and it’s a single track, which can make it a little tough when it gets congested.

For all the age-groupers competing – my advice is to keep your wits about you on the run. It’s twisty, there’s some loose dirt, so watch your footing and be careful. Don’t forget to have fun, go hard and I’ll see you at the finish!

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Wrong direction in Auckland

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Ironman 70.3 Auckland yesterday and I’ve got to admit that this is a tough report for me to write. Let’s just say… there was good news and there was bad news. I’ll start off with the good news:

The Good News

  • It was a beautiful day for racing in Auckland – the Kiwis lined up some great weather for us. A cool 18˚C for the start of the swim up to a very pleasant 22˚C to finish the run in
  • The swim felt good. Once again, I arrived into T1 with the main group, coming out alongside Crowie and Cam Brown. Definitely happy with the swim leg
  • I was stoked to see two fellow Aussies storm home to take 1 & 2 on the podium. Reedy (Tim Reed) was absolutely flying on the run leg and Griffo (Leon Griffin) was only 30 seconds behind. Well done, fellas!

The Bad News

  • Managed to lose the front group going up the Harbour Bridge
  • Rode with TB (Terenzo Bozzone) for about 60km but then lost him
  • Came in 17th and felt very disappointed with the result

Wise Advice

Not much more to say, except to leave you with an important piece of advice… Try NOT to take a wrong turn on the bike leg. You’ll end up riding an extra 3km, it won’t help your time and it’s just really, really embarrassing…

It’s days like these that drive you to refocus on your core values- the stuff that drives you. For me, that’s – strength, persistence, dream. Bring on Challenge Melbourne!

#AskBerks – January 2014

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Firstly and huge thanks guys! There’s been an awesome response to the #AskBerks segment. They cover a whole bunch of different topics and I’ve also grabbed Grant my coach to come in on a few questions as well.

I’ve just finished packing to head over the pond to NZ to race in Auckland and as I promised I wanted to get this first round of #AskBerks back to you by the end of the week. So here goes:

Interval training

Simon Hatlee asked:
Q. How many interval sessions do you do on the bike to get your power and speed up?

A. I usually do 2-3 a week, which will include big gearing work on the flats as well as hill work.

Grant: Our programs revolve around “Strength / Endurance” and “Strength / Power”. The intervals themselves are important but they play a secondary role (ie) If there was a choice to made between Strength / Aerobic capacity and top end intervals the Strength would win out every time because it underpins everything. Also able to withstand higher wattages on climbs for a longer period of time without the same level of oxygen cost and I think that’s important.

Gym sessions

Marty McDonald and Craig Guilfoyle asked about gym sessions:
Q. What’s an example of your common gym session? How many sessions a week do you do?

A. Marty, at present I do one gym session a week. I keep it pretty simple, so I’ll do a little bit of work on the legs with some squats and leg press. I’ll also do some strength work on the upper body, with exercises like lat pulldowns and chin-ups.

On top of that I do core work 2-3 times a week. I just do that at home and that’s stuff like push-ups, planks and sit-ups. I also do some very specific work for my dodgy hip, such as 1-leg bridges. Unfortunately, hip problems can be pretty common among triathletes, no matter whether you’re a pro or an age-grouper. For some more info and some great exercises to strengthen your hips, improve your hip drive and prevent injury, click here.

Custom race suits

Marty also had a question about race suits:
Q. Your race suit, the one with the sleeves. I got a quote to get one made for $900. Do you think it would be worth it?

A. My race suit is very specific to me – it’s a one-off custom-made kit from Scody which I really love racing in. Obviously, I’m a little biased here Marty. Scody are great sponsors and I love their gear, which is why I wear it. When I spoke to the guys at Scody they quoted somewhere between $400-$900 for a custom made race kit – really depends on the style you choose. You need to work out if the money is going to be worth it for you. One thing to keep in mind though – the price per suit drops significantly if you’re ordering more than 5. So you could get that cost down if you order as a team or even a bunch of friends. FYI – Scody have got a cool function on their website where you can design your own race suit here.

Swimming in the front pack

Damien Collins asked:
Q. I know you were never a swimmer growing up, nor a front pack swimmer, correct me if I’m wrong. But you did a massive dedicated swim block to turn yourself into a swimmer doing 50k a week? How much of your bike/run had to suffer so you could focus on your swim? How long did you keep those massive swim blocks for before you returned to training as normal? For example, what would you swim in a typical week now?

A. Mate, that was a fairly epic question, but it’s a good one. You’re right, I’ve worked really hard on getting my swim happening. Gilesy and I agreed that there was no point even going to Kona last year if I couldn’t swim with the front pack. So, I was rapt when I came out of the water with them – the hard work paid off.

To strengthen my swim leg I was swimming around 20-25km per week. 50km would have just about killed me! But I was making sure it was really good quality and not taking any shortcuts. I really made an effort to ensure my technique was good.

I did back off my running, by about 30-40km per week, which actually really helped me in the swimming sessions. I’m working on getting my swim km’s back up to around 20km per week, but at present I’m doing 15-20km.

And you’re right, Damien, having a swimming background would have really helped a lot. One athlete that I know well, Clayton Fettell, swims really well and he’ll continue to dominate that leg of the race due to his background in swimming as a junior.

Long ride intensity

Matt Cannizzaro asked:
Q. Hey man! Congrats on a great 2014. I am doing 4 rides a week leading into IM Melbourne: 1x strength (hills), 1x easy, 1x WT tempo set and 1x long ride (approx 6hrs). What intensity do you think I should do my long rides at? I train to HR and power.

A. Matt, you’re right on the money with those rides. Towards the tail end of the long ride, you should add in some IM efforts (goal pace). Keep up the good work, Matt, and I’ll see you in Melbourne on March 22!

Grant: Agreed that is a pretty safe plan. On the long ones you want to make sure you are not sitting those in the grey zone somewhere between easy and hard as it can become junk. The key is just to ride nice even tempo on those rides –keep pedalling and keep it even. You do want to get a sense of your goal pace over the final 6 weeks but if you are pressed for time you could add a few of those to your long ride but keep them realistic. Also good to keep in mind that you build strength and speed from beneath not from above so you want your aerobic speed and strength to be as developed as you can get it so you build that presence and focus over time. Too much over speed won’t work, it simply teaches people how to blow up. So in simple terms build your speed from beneath don’t try to pull it from above pace.

Doing your first triathlon

Travis Hill asked:
Q. I’m about to do my first Triathlon on Sunday. What tips do you have for beginners who are starting out and do you remember your first Tri?

A. Travis, I’m guessing that by the time this blog comes out you will have completed your first triathlon. I hope it was an awesome day for you! I still remember my first tri, although it was a long time ago. I was an 18 year old competing with a bunch of my AFL mates.

My best advice to you and to anyone who’s doing their first triathlon is just – enjoy the day and don’t put any pressure on yourself.

Robyn Winn asked:
Q. Do you believe you should compete in a marathon race prior to your first IM?

A. No, not at the full distance. I’d suggest doing a double run day.

Grant: In my opinion, I think people vastly overestimate what they need to do in terms of run volume. If you think you are going to run 3.7 hours for the marathon I think it’s very counterproductive to train that long, you are essentially teaching your body how to operate with bad form. This also applies to slower athletes. You want to reach the start line health, strong and above all efficient. Strength and Efficiency are the 2 keys to IM racing and people do not need to circumnavigate the globe in training to race well. My advice is to only run to the volume where you feel you can maintain good form, keep that a focus.

In my experience whenever I’ve had someone mix a straight marathon even a training run into an IM prep it has been disastrous. Anything is possible if you reach the start line healthy and strong.

Staying focused in training and on race day

There are a couple of questions relating to this topic. Steve Copelin asked:
Q. I’d like to know with all the volume of training you do, how do you keep focused & energized on each session? Some days the body and the mind just won’t do what is required.

A. Steve, I’m just like anyone else. I suffer from purple patches and you just have to soldier through them. I’ve also got a good bunch of training mates at Aeromax and my coach, Gilesy, helps me keep my head in the game too.

Grant: It’s about being present in the body at each session as much as it is about the mind. A cluttered mind space makes it near impossible to focus. Many people simply can’t turn their minds off. This is where some sensory work can come in handy, simple things like spending 10 mins before a session sensing density and aliveness in the feet and legs-that takes you out of the mind and into the body. The body has its own intelligence and it’s very hard to access changes in form if you are not occupying that space while predisposed with a story your mind is telling you.

Dave Picot asked:
Q. What goes through your mind on the 2+ hours on the run during a race? Surely you can’t be thinking about form that entire time?

A. You’d be surprised just how much there is to think about on the run. Basically, I try to stay in the present moment and focused on the job at hand. Having said that, sometimes there are some distractions to keep you amused. At Kona, I was having quite a battle with Jan Fodeno when he started farting like a champion. It certainly lightened the mood and gave me a good reason to break away from him!

Hot feet on the bike

Ben Bailey asked:
Q. I get hot feet when I ride, which is pretty intense. Kicks in after one to two hours plus. Any remedies?

A. ‘Hot foot’ is a pretty common problem for cyclists. Believe it or not, the issue is not caused by your foot over-heating. It’s actually the result of pressure on the nerves in your foot, just behind your toes (your metatarsal bones). Pressure is generated when your feet expand on a long ride and this gives you that burning sensation in the balls of your feet.

Ben, there are a few things you can do to fix this. You can re-direct the pressure by moving your cleat position back. Your shoes may be too tight – try different shoes with more room in them around your toes. Maybe even consider wider pedals, if they’re too narrow for your foot. For a great article on ‘hot foot’ and some ways to fix it, click here.

Supplements

Oscar Mendez asked:
Q. Supplements: which ones do you trust and use? Thanks for this initiative and for the chance you gave to all age groupers, average Joe triathletes, and fans, to get in touch with you. I wish all pro triathletes could do this.

A. Thanks for the kind words, Oscar. Glad to be giving something back.
As far as supplements go, I’m a sponsored athlete with Endura, which enables me to also have access to Ethical Nutrients and Metagenics. I’ve found them to be very beneficial and I haven’t had any issues with them. I currently use:

  • Fish Oil
  • Zinc
  • Q10
  • Vitamin C
  • Immune boosters
  • Iron (for when at Altitude)
  • Probiotic (Inner Health Plus)

Nutrition

This topic is a big one, so it was no surprise to see a whole bunch of questions that related to diet and nutrition – before and during a race. So, here we go…

Andrew Garwood asked:
Q. Do you follow a special diet?

A. I try to eat clean and well, but will indulge sometimes. (hahaha… most of the time!) Which leads to this question from Garry Stevens:

Q. Is it true you drank an entire bottle of champagne in a 10 min drive on a bus at Great Keppel? And then threw up all night?

A. Maybe all night…. But I’m sure I was still out all night though. (Note to readers – This is not part of my regular training program, so don’t try this at home… save it for Great Keppel)

Nicole Smyth asked:
Q. Do you include wheat, dairy and processed sugar in your diet or are you pretty strict about what you eat?

A. I’m not too strict, but I certainly reduce my dairy intake during race week.

Thanks to James Berry, Mark Firth, Matthew Roberts and Valerie Koroneos for your questions about nutrition and hydration on race day. Here’s a quick rundown for you:

Before an event

A. The night before an event I’ll just have a standard meal. The morning of the event I have Endura Optimizer and some banana and I’m good to go.

During the race

A. As far as carbs intake during an IM race, I’ll take 2-3g per hour via gels and drinks. When it comes to hydration, it’s recommended that you have your body weight (in kgs) in mls per hour at least. I use the Endura ReHydration Bottle plus one extra in my special needs bag.

To all the triathletes out there, let me say it’s so important to get your nutrition and hydration right on race day. Plus it’s not simply about hydration, you need to manage your blood sodium levels as well so you avoid hyponatremia, which can seriously kick your butt. My advice is – don’t leave it to race day to sort this stuff out. Experiment with nutrition and hydration on your longer training sessions, so you’ve got a solid plan in place before you hit race day.

Thanks to everyone for your questions this month. Sorry to all those who missed out on an answer this time round. But, keep sending those questions in to #AskBerks.