By Andy Potts, Ironman Champion & Pro Triathlete
The Long Run, The Tempo Run…Both?
For marathoners and triathletes, the long run is a staple in their training regimen. It is one of the workouts that I get ‘pumped’ up for every week. For most recreational marathoners and triathletes, the approach for this workout usually involves a series of progressive builds of distance or time over the course of the year. And while I take a similar approach in some regards, I also differ greatly in others. The key for the long run for myself and what I suggest for a lot of athletes, specifically triathletes, is to combine your long run and your tempo run; which makes it the Long Tempo.
Now, let me explain a little bit of the why, the what, and everything else you need to think about if you take this approach.
Why Combine the Long Run and the Tempo Run?
A key reason is time. In a triathlete, and even a busy marathoner’s schedule, you have a lot of workouts to fit into your schedule. By combining these workouts, you can maximize your time.
When we race, we are in essence doing a version of a tempo run. Why wouldn’t you train your body for that. By training based on the demands of racing, you are training your body and your mind to race.
Say what? Yes- recovery. If you were to break up your running each week into a series of runs that included 1-2 easier runs, 1 tempo run, 1 track/speed/efficiency based workout, 1 long run and 1 tempo run; you would have to plan for recovery for at least 3 workouts (track, tempo, long). That leaves little time for your key bike and swim workouts too. Granted, hooking yourself up to the Marc Pro for a few hours after each workout can help a lot, it still puts too great of a demand on your body (and mind).
How do I Combine the Long Run and the Tempo Run?
You should already have some longer runs (steady state, easier effort) and some tempo runs of shorter distances logged. Like anything, you cannot start week 1 going out full throttle.
I always back up my long tempo run days with a day completely off or a really short and easy swim. By giving your body a day of recovery, you can come back to train at full force. Consistency over time is the #1 key to success in your training. On my day off, I used to get a massage or get some body work done but I found it left me more tired and sore. So now, I typically plan for at least 4 hours of Marc Pro usage and it usually turns into 8+ as I use it when doing dishes, watching football/sports, doing paperwork, or pretty much anything. I also make sure I am eating well balanced meals to help get the proper nutrients in my body.
Not Every Week
While long tempo runs are really effective training tools, your body cannot handle the demands of these week in and week out for countless weeks on end. I typically assign our athletes about 3-5 weeks of these runs in a row and then we change the stimulus for a week or two. Dependent on how the athlete responds, we will probably come back to these runs, but we always break them up over time.
A Sample Workout for a 70.3 Distance Racer:
10-15 minutes of an easy build to mid range z2
PS: (Primer Set)
:30 strides (open it up)
:30 easy cruise
2 miles or 15 minutes @ tempo; right into
4x 400 @ tempo pace minus :08/mile; r = :30
10-15 minutes of easy cruising and stretch
A Quick Note
For zones (z1-z5 or tempo); I typically go by Perceived Effort for WU/PS/CD and then use Pace or Power for the tempo work. If you want to know more about zones and why I use these methods, check out these two articles:
Setting your Training Zones
Training Methodology and the Golden Triangle
What Else you Need to Know
The Tempo Long Run can come in a lot of different forms varying from interval-based work like I described above to steady state running. The tempo or ‘work’ part of these workouts can get up to being about 85% of the entire workout or the distance you will cover in a race. It is really demanding, but if you follow some basic recovery protocols (rest/sleep, Marc Pro, balanced nutrition) and progressively build the training load, you will be well on your way to setting personal bests.
Let me help you: If you need more help with this type of workout, or with any of your training, I am happy to help. Come over to AP Racing and check out all of the coaching and training/camp experiences we offer.
Now get out there and #getsome!
By Pro Triathlete/Ironman Champion Andy Potts
An Ironman™ is a long race. You spend anywhere from 8 to 16+ hours out on the race course, virtually alone, in your own head (scary place for me), and trying to cover this insane distance as fast as possible. The questions that I get asked all of the time: how do you mentally make it through and what goes on in your head? Are you zoning out, playing music in your head, thinking about your ‘to-do list’? What are you doing?
A lot of times when I get questions like these, folks are less curious about what I really do and are really looking for answers to help themselves (I get it). So, I will briefly touch on what I do and try to help each of you out there in the process.
Andy Potts Shares His Tips on Mentally Getting Through an Ironman Race
My self-talk during a race is pretty methodical and it comes from years or racing and years of training. Race day is simply another day of ‘work’ and I go through my routines like every other day. The same should be said for you. You should be establishing good habits in training that translate directly to racing. Here is what I do:
All day long, I am constantly doing ‘systems checks’ on my body and mind. Do I need more salt? More water? Maybe more protein or electrolytes? Should I adjust my position because of where the wind is coming from?
I do systems checks all day long, but especially when approaching an aid station. I self-assess, diagnose, and treat every time I approach an aid station and throughout the race.
While the pro race is a bit different because there are a lot of race dynamics, as we are competing ‘head-to-head’ against our competitors, it is important for amateur athletes to assess the race too. For me, I am thinking: where am I in relation to certain people, is someone going to make a move and am I in the right position to cover it? How does person X look right now and can I bury him, use him, or exploit something for an advantage? What part of the course is coming up next and how will the field of guys react to it? Similarly, age group athletes should be thinking about wind direction, the terrain of the course, potential issues with other people on the road, and how best to prepare and address them as the race unfolds.
Shrink Your World
I always say that as things get tough, I always shrink my world. As an example, if you are feeling good, you might be looking down the road on the bike or run a mile or ¼ of a mile or whatever. As things get tough, my gaze gets lower and lower and I start to think about things within a foot or two of me or even within myself. Small world = small problems. I’ll start to focus on things like my pedal stroke or my hand position or really small things that I can control and give myself a sense of empowerment. It helps rebuild confidence and focus.
Always Leave Hope
During a race, it is critical to always leave hope. You might have a bad swim, but leave hope that you will have the best bike and run. Even if you get to the end of the race and you had an awful swim, terrible bike, and lackluster run, tell yourself: “I am going to have the best finish line celebration ever.” By leaving hope, you are making a conscious decision to be positive and that can make all of the difference in the world on race day.
If you want more tips on how to execute your perfect race or prepare for it, come check me out at www.andypottsracing.com for coaching, camps and clinics.
See how Andy Potts recovers after an Ironman race: https://marcpro.com/blog/triathlon-training-tips-andy-potts/
Without a doubt, the most common questions I get asked revolve around nutrition. I think there needs to be a distinction between nutrition and fueling when talking about these topics, as both deserve a ton of attention. At the end of a day, as an athlete, you are fueling your body for optimal performance, but on race day, your fueling is very specific. For every day fueling, I will call that nutrition. While I am not a nutritionist, I know what works for me and I can share that with you.
3 Nutrition Tips for Triathletes
There are a few axioms I would like to pass on to you:
1. Everything in moderation
Too much of anything, even something good turns into something bad. So, if we eat in moderation and eat different types of foods in moderation, we can maintain the elusive balanced approach to eating.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper
Simply put, taper your eating throughout the day. You eat to fuel in the AM, you eat to replenish but not ‘fill’ in the afternoon and evening. When you think about your meals, think about breakfast as a way to top off carbohydrate stores while also getting in some protein to satiate yourself. Lunch is to replenish protein stores to aid in recovery after your morning training sessions and prepare you for your evening sessions. Eat dinner to simply give your body enough protein and nutrients to repair itself throughout the night. A ‘go-to’ for me is Infinit Nocturne in the evenings. I use it as a way to make sure my body is repairing itself and it also helps me sleep. If you want to try it out, use my code for a friendly discount at checkout: APRACING
3. What works for me might not work for you
We are all an experiment of 1 and we all have different training and fueling needs. An athlete that trains 35+ hours a week has different fueling and nutrition requirements than an athlete who trains 5-10. One thing I have found is that so many amateur athletes over-eat in the spirit of fueling. It is important to take a really close look at the ‘energy in-energy out’ equation and what the composition of those foods are.
With all of that said, if we fuel with a balanced approach, are mindful of our eating and fueling habits, and aim for timing your eating based on your energy expenditure during the day, you will be well on your way to better fueling and nutrition.
Bonus: If you are looking for one of my favorite pre-workout or pre-race meals, check out my wife’s famous pumpkin muffins.
Recovery is another important component of triathlon training. See how Andy Potts recovers from his training and racing.
The Bulgarian split squat is an exercise that is highly regarded by many athletes and fitness experts. When it comes to building upper leg strength, it doesn’t get much better than this.
According to Barbend.com, this exercise targets the quads (Vastus Medialis, Vastus Lateralis, Rectus Femoris, Tibialis Anterior), hamstrings (Semitendinosus, Biceps Femoris, Semimembranosus), and glutes (Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medius). It also engages your core and helps improve stability. Unlike a back squat that can put a lot of strain on the lower back, the Bulgarian split squat puts emphasis on the legs, which means your lower back won’t take as much of the heat.
What is a Bulgarian Split Squat?
This movement is a single leg squat variation where the rear leg is elevated while the lead leg remains on the ground. The position allows you to go lower than a traditional squat, which is a plus for hip mobility. Since the Bulgarian split squat is a single leg movement, it can help you fix training imbalances. By correcting these imbalances, you can prevent injuries and move more efficiently, ultimately leading to better performance.
Bulgarian Split Squat Using a TRX Band
Andy Potts shares how he does a Bulgarian split squat using his TRX. However, you can use another unstable object, such as a gym ball, to incorporate an added challenge. If you’re new to the movement, you can start out by using a more stable surface, such as a chair or bench.
Setting up the TRX Band
- Attach the TRX Band to a structure overhead so that it hangs a few inches from the ground.
- Thread the handles twice through each other and then leg them hang.
- Bring one leg back, putting your foot through the handle (this step is easiest to do with your knees on the ground).
- Keep some tension on the TRX band, not a lot of stress, but you don’t want the band to go slack either- it should stay on your foot.
Doing the Squat
- While still on the ground, bring your lead leg forward in front of your body.
- At this point, the rear knee is on the ground and the leading knee is in front of the body.
- As you raise up from the ground, make sure your leading knee doesn’t go too far in front of the ball of your foot.
- Keep your hips square and your lead foot in line with your hip as you rise.
- Optional: Andy likes to add in a knee extension at the end of the movement.
- Always keep a big chest and arms slack at the sides.
- Go down slowly and explode up.
If you feel like using just your bodyweight is too easy, try adding in some weights. Keep your arms at your sides though, don’t curl the weights up.
The Bulgarian split squat is a useful exercise for many types of athletes. Incorporating a TRX band helps elevate your results and get even more benefit from the movement since your body has to use more muscles to stabilize. Also, make sure to recover after your workout so you can stay healthy and maximize your training results. Marc Pro is an easy and effective way to recover faster and keep your body fresh.
In this video, pro triathlete Andy Potts demonstrates how to complete the Bulgarian split squat.
Glute Activation Exercise & Why it’s Important
Tight Hips Affecting your Performance? 3 Ways to Loosen Up & Recover
How to do the Pistol Squat
How often do you stretch? Daily? Weekly? Maybe monthly? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t stretch as much as you should. A good stretching routine is often (and easily) overlooked.
The problem with that is we then end up with short, tight muscles that don’t function as efficiently as they should. It also tends to create an environment that’s more susceptible to injuries.
For many runners and endurance athletes, ailments often start from the knee down. There are so many muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones in your lower leg that need attention after an exerting workout, but realistically most of us don’t put in enough effort to keep them all happy and healthy. But, the good news is that pro triathlete Andy Potts is here to help! Andy shares the lower leg stretching routine he uses daily to stay limber and loose.
Lower Leg Stretching Routine
To get in a great stretch session, Andy recommends using a slant board angled at 45-degrees while completing the following routine. Try spending 15-20 minutes a day on this stretching routine post exercise when your muscles are warm. If you don’t already have a slant board, you can check out this YouTube video to learn how to make your own.
Stretch #1: Both Legs
This first stretch is very simple. Just put both feet side-by-side on a slant board and then bend over and grab the board while keeping your legs straight.
Stretch #2: Crossed Legs
Next, do the same thing as stretch #1, but cross your left leg over your right leg. Alternate and cross your right leg over your left. This slight variation will target your lateral quad and IT band.
Stretch #3: Quads
Even though quads aren’t a part of the lower leg, they are connected to the knee, so they make the cut for this stretching routine. Plus, this stretch works double duty. Put your left foot on the slant board and then grab your right foot to stretch out your quad. With your left leg, alternate between keeping your leg straight and bending it. Adding in some leg bend will help target your soleus.
Stretching is a vital component to keep your body healthy. It keeps muscles flexible and strong and prevents them from becoming tight. Since muscle tissues surround our joints, stretching also allows our joints to move better so we can maintain or improve our range of motion.
Post-workout recovery is another critical element to stay healthy and active. During exercise, muscles break down and become weaker. However, during the recovery phase, muscles rebuild and become stronger. Research has found that active recovery is the most effective way to enhance that process.
Active recovery involves low-stress muscle movement, such as a light swim, cycle, or run. Keep in mind, the key is that the activity needs to be low stress and not cause additional muscle break down. Sometimes that may be hard to achieve, which is why many athletes use Marc Pro. Marc Pro has a patented technology that creates non-fatiguing muscle activation, so you get all the benefits of active recovery, but without the limitations. Plus, it’s also more versatile so you can target specific problem areas such as your back, quads, or knees.
Stretching and active recovery are two elements that you don’t want to pass up. If you’re an athlete who wants to train for many years to come, then investing in your body is worth it.
Top 4 Triathlon Recovery Tips from Heather Jackson
How to Run Faster: Part I
How to Maintain Energy Throughout a Race
Triathletes spend a lot of time training. After all, there are three different disciplines to try to master – swimming, biking, and running. Having a good workout program is important, but there’s something else that you need to be doing as well. Pro triathlete Andy Potts shares the key that will make you stronger and more successful with your triathlon training plan.
How to Make Strength & Endurance Gains
Many athletes dedicate a lot of time and effort to their triathlon training program, but ignore the second half of the equation – muscle recovery. While training, muscles break down and become weaker. During the recovery cycle, your body rebuilds itself and becomes stronger than before. Both are essential pieces of the puzzle that will allow you to get stronger and continue to make progress. Additionally, muscle recovery is important for a variety of other reasons, which include:
- Enhanced performance: when your body is recovered and feeling good you can give 100%
- Maintain proper biomechanics
- Prevention of overuse injuries
- Keeps your body healthy and capable of doing the activities you love in the long term
What’s the Best Way to Recover from Triathlon Training?
There are a lot of recovery techniques and tools out there, but very few of them enhance all stages of the muscle recovery process. For example, compression boots may help get rid of some waste, but their benefits are even limited with that, and they fail to improve any of the other steps. Icing is another common technique; however, it’s been found that icing actually delays healing and possibly causes additional damage. The only technique that is proven to effectively enhance all stages of the cycle is low-stress movement, also known as active recovery. Research shows that active recovery provides the necessary muscle activation that’s required to increase nutrients and supplies, remove waste through the lymphatic system, produce and release myokines for tissue regeneration, and effectively remodel the repaired tissue.
Marc Pro Placement
Pro triathlete Andy Potts uses Marc Pro to make sure he’s fully recovered. Marc Pro creates non-fatiguing muscle activation to provide the benefits of active recovery in an easier and more effective way. One of Andy’s favorite ways to use Marc Pro is to place the pads of the gray lead wire on the lateral quadricep (one pad on the left leg, one pad on the right), and the pads of the black lead wire on the bottom of the VMO (one pad on the left leg, one pad on the right). Andy has found that crossing the channels gives him a better muscle contraction and better blood flow.
You may also be interested in:
Heather Jackson | Why Muscle Recovery is Essential for Triathletes
Andy Potts Shares Two Tips for Ironman Training
How do I Recover after an Ironman? Brian Mackenzie Shares his Tips
Training for an Ironman requires a lot of time and dedication to bring your body and mind to a place that can maintain a high level of performance. Andy Potts has been training for Ironman races for about 15 years now. He’s completed more than 200 triathlons, has been an Ironman Champion 7 times, and Ironman 70.3 Champion 28 times. Over the years, he’s learned a thing or two about Ironman events and now wants to share his knowledge with you. Here are two quick tips on Ironman training from Andy Potts.
Ironman Training Tips
Tip 1: 70.3 Ironman to a 140.6 Ironman
Transitioning from a half Ironman to a full Ironman is going to be taxing on both your body and mind. Jumping from 70.3 to 140.6 is going to be tough, especially the further into it you get. But, the biggest challenge on race day is going to be mental. Andy Potts recommends staying mentally engaged and letting yourself know that you put in the work and you’ve got this. Be aware of potential obstacles and know how to overcome them. Focus on your breathing techniques and eliminate negative self-talk. Studies have shown that your mental strategy has a huge effect on your athletic performance.
Tip 2: Open Water Swimming
Your first time in the open water can be very disorienting and it takes some time to get accustomed to the environment change. One of the biggest differences between swimming in a pool and swimming in the open water is tempo. Tempo is your stroke rate or how fast you’re turning over your stroke. For example, Andy Potts aims for a right fingertip entry to right fingertip entry of 1.5 seconds. Andy does have long arms though so yours might be faster or slower depending on your size and technique. Training your tempo in a pool will translate over into the open water. However, because the ocean is constantly moving, know that you have to keep a higher tempo in the open water to achieve the same results you would be able to achieve in a pool.
You may also like:
How do I Recover after an Ironman? | Brian Mackenzie shares his Ironman Recovery Tips
Heather Jackson Triathlon Tip: How to Maintain Energy Throughout a Race
Why Recovery is Essential for Triathletes
Andy Potts has raced in over 200 triathlons, finished first over 57 times, and represented the US in the Olympic Games less than a year and a half after starting the sport. What’s even more impressive is that amidst his busy competition and training schedule, he still takes the time to support others. Andy can often be found at Ironman events handing out medals to people crossing the finish line. His approach is humble and positive and he always works hard to encourage others.
Andy Potts first heard about Marc Pro from fellow triathlete Heather Jackson. He immediately became interested in Marc Pro and reached out to us so he could try the device for himself. Since incorporating Marc Pro into his routine, he has noticed the difference in his recovery.
“I am beyond happy with my Marc Pro! I have totally bought in to its ability to enhance my recovery… I’ve been targeting two spots lately (quads & total legs) and seeing a ton of progress. The crazy part is that I’ve been sleeping with it (at least the first 3-4 hours)! I might be going overboard but I don’t think so. My ability to repeat my efforts is getting better by the day.”
In addition to being a competitor and fan, Andy is also a coach. He started the AP Racing Team as a way to help others push themselves and reach their goals in the sport of triathlon. We are excited to have such a dedicated and well-respected athlete join our team. Welcome to the team Andy!