Ask Deaks! Episode 1
Welcome to the inaugural first Everyday Triathlete blog for ETPA. For many of us on our triathlon journey, ETPA have been a stable platform to become the best we can be, whether it be juniors just starting out or late bloomers coming to the sport to redeem the sins of eating bacon sandwiches for the last 20 years. I was one of those late starters, having been in the sport now for around six years. During my distinctly average career I’ve picked up a little bit of wisdom here and there (correct swim technique not being one of them) and we thought we would share a little bit of the knowledge with team.
This will be a community-based blog, so if you have a topic or something you like to discuss and ask send it my way, otherwise you will have to put up with my rambling nonsense once a month or so.
Our first request comes from the effervescent Doc, who shouted it at me from Mitta Mitta whilst I was sleeping on the couch in Keilor. Thanks for the wake up call.
”Many of our newer athletes are confused by what technology to get, perhaps you can write something about this?”
Well as many of you know, well certainly as my wife knows i'm addicted to technology. If Garmin had an adoption programme I would be first in line, so very much happy to talk about tech Doc.
It's fair to say that when I was new to the sport I over spent on technology and whilst I continue this trend with gusto, i'm learning slowly that there’s a lot you need, but there are certainly there are a lot of things that you can do without. Obviously goggles, runners and a bike is needed but here are a few handy tips that you should consider.
Buy the right sports watch.
A sports watch is a must, it not only allows you to train effectively by measuring your heart rate and your heart rate zones. The first question many people ask is do I buy a Suunto, Polar or Garmin watch. I have to highly recommend Garmin as their support is top notch, their app is slick and it’s the most highly integrated of the three. Suunto’s app sucks and Polar requires proprietary hardware to get working. Garmin have an overwhelming range nowadays so you are probably wondering which one to buy. Well it’s a toughie. If I were to buy a single watch, I would most certainly go for the Fenix 5 or 5S (we don’t need the X) its fully featured and looks good in a non-sports setting. A slightly cheaper option is Garmin 935 however its less durable. Many of us train and race in two and a good option is to pickup a second-hand older Garmin 920XT for example for a couple of hundred bucks.
Use it as a tool for recovery as well as training
Many devices now measure your overall recovery window which is inaccurate and subjective. Many watches now measure Heart Rate Variability (HRV) essentially a measure of your stress. I have found its external stress, workload, travel etc that has a greater impact on training as your coaches should be managing your training load for you. High stress levels indicate lower athletic performance and increase likelihood of burn out. Therefore monitor your HRV with these tools a give feedback to the coaching team.
Get a second Bike computer for the bike
A trick I picked up earlier was to get a second cheaper bike computer which you can mount in transition. It saves you having to uncomfortably look at your watch whilst racing or dealing with one of those suicidal quick release mounts for your watch. Get a cheap one and cover it with your helmet
Getting a power meter installed on your bike is another optional but highly recommended purchase, heart rate variance can take as much as 10 seconds to 1 minute to show an effect of any strain on the system (such as climbing in short burst) Power is instant. Having Realtime feedback allows you to not blow candles during short efforts whilst racing and have a steady race. Another benefit to having power on the bike is that you can spend time indoors leveraging all these cool new applications that the kids are playing (Zwift, Sufferfest, maybe even Fortnite) and train with power at home. Something your coaches will love and get you a path to Athlete of the year in no time.
…but don’t over focus on data
Now with all that being said, you have to remember that these are just tools to help you race and train. One thing I have learnt just recently is that you can get caught up in the data. Many of the best racers both in the field and at our club not only don’t train with technology but would struggle to turn the things on. First and foremost, you have to learn to train and race by feel and if your maxed out and feeling good then... just go for it! Use the data along side your coach to focus on the quality of your training and recovery and don’t over focus on it…