TT053: Blood Test Results, Testosterone & First Time Triathlete

Garrett Rock On Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, and Testosterone

Garrett Rock, the guest from episode 23, talks about a specific blood test result a listener sent in.  The listener’s hemoglobin and hematocrit had dropped significantly in a short period of time. His training in the days leading up to test #1 was limited, and during the other tests his volume was in the 12-15 hour range.  Normal ranges for a male are 13.2-18 for hemoglobin and 38-54 for a male.

These test results are lower than normal and they indicate something has gone awry.  Items to look at include red blood cell indices, potential blood loss in the GI system or from ulcers.  The results could result from a simple deficiency in iron, folate, or B12 which could either be from lack of intake or an absorption problem.  Garrett explains how he would investigate further.

At the time of the interview we didn’t have the results of test #4, which showed a significant improvement.


Test #1

17 Days Since Test#1

28 Days Since Test#1

34 Days Since Test#1











We also talked briefly about testosterone, which is usually on the lower side for both male and female triathletes.

Garrett does blood testing for endurance athletes.  Check out

First Year Triathlete Hillary Spires

In November Hillary signed up for her first triathlon; a 70.3 event.  Then she signed up for Ironman Canada.  She just did an Olympic distance triathlon as her first ever triathlon.

To compete she had to overcome a knee injury that resulted from wearing away the cartilage in her knee.  She had micro-fracture surgery to grow it back, but the pain didn’t go away until she started foam-rolling her legs.  That was only a temporary fix as the pain came back as she did more running.

Based on what she heard in previous Triathlete Training podcast episodes she changed from heel striking to mid-foot striking and that immediately eliminated her knee pain and hip pain.  As a result her Ironman training is on track.


TT052: Ultraman Florida Triathlon Winner Billy Edwards

Billy Edwards has done many Ironmans and never finished slower than 10 hours.  He recently attempted his first ultra-distance triathlon, winning Ultraman Florida in a time of 23 hours and 17 minutes covering a span of 3 days, besting a field of 39 triathletes.  Ultraman Florida 2015 Results

Billy tells us what went right, what went wrong, and his plans to do Ultraman Hawaii.


TT051: A 9:36 Ironman Chattanooga Race Report

Mikhail Ivanov moved from Russia to Colorado with his wife and 9 and 1 year old children in early 2014.  He is a 36 year old triathlete who has been racing for 4 years.  He had limited  running experience and no cycling or swimming experience before he started triathlons.

It’s a small triathlon community in Russia with limited warm weather for training.  With all the indoor training time he calls himself a strong “balcony rider.”  While in Russia he was able to train for Ironman Austria in his second year of racing, finishing in a time of 10:26.  In 2014 he went 10:00 at Ironman Boulder and then, after Ironman Tahoe was cancelled just minutes before the start, he went to  Ironman Chattanooga one week later and went 9:36, earning a spot for Ironman Hawaii in 2015.

During the interview we talk about his training and racing experience, things he learned at other Ironmans, and how he put it all together at Ironman Chattanooga.  His target heart rate on the bike for his last Ironman was zone 2-3 using Joe Friel heart rate zones, taking in 300 calories per hour during his 5:10 ride.  His goal during the race was ‘not to slow down at mile 18’. As a result he raced conservatively, and his last 5k of the marathon was faster than his first 5k.

Mikhail uses pickle juice as a concoction to avoid side stitches during Ironmans.   When he races he takes a bottle of pickle juice with pickles in it.

If you’re interested in the research on cramps and pickle juice, check out this

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TT050: Hunter Allen On Cycling For Triathlon

Hunter Allen is a pioneer in the cycling world.  He co-founded TrainingPeaks WKO+ power data analytics software and he’s the founder of Peaks Coaching Group.  He’s also the co-author of Training & Racing With A Power Meter and Cutting-Edge Cycling.  He raced bikes for 17 years, and including several years as a pro.

Among the topics we covered:

Cadence – Hunter believes 95-105 is ideal, and 90 is okay.  Pedaling at a lower cadence requires more glycogen usage compared to higher cadence.  His recommendation is also based on quadrant analysis with WKO+.  A cadence workout he uses is Hunter Allen10X(1 minute at high cadence followed by 1 minute at normal cadence).

Base Phase Workout Structure – for an athlete in base phase, with the ability to do 3 rides per week of 1-2 hours in duration, Hunter suggests three workouts that include ‘sweet spot’ work, which he defines as roughly 88-93% of FTP (functional threshold power).  For example, 3-4X10 minutes in the sweet spot, or alternate 2 minutes at sweet spot with 30 seconds at 120% of FTP.  A minimum of 3-4 weeks of base training is preferable before starting this.

The Wobble – a new brand of power meter is able to measure the side to side wobble of the bike frame with each pedal stroke.  Ideally, a time trialist on a flat course would not have a wobble, while a sprinter and a hill climber on a steep hill have an optimum wobble.  Too much wobble or incorrect wobble can cost as much as 15 watts.

Mistakes Pro Triathletes Make- I asked Hunter what type of mistakes he has observed among pro triathletes.  He mentioned two. The first was having a cadence that was too low.  The second involved the long ride. He believes it’s a mistake to do a regular long ride (4-6 hours) at only endurance page (zone 1-2).  Unless it’s necessary for recovery, he prefers to add in sweet spot riding (zone 4) and something such as hill intervals within the long ride.

The One Thing He Wish He Would Have Known/Done While Racing – Hire a coach.


2015 Peaks Coaching Group
– March 15, 2015 Mallorca cycling camp and April 19 Bedford, Virginia cycling camp.

@HunterPeaks Twitter

Peaks Coaching Group

Training and Racing With a Power Meter by Hunter Allen and Andrew Coggan

Cutting-Edge Cycling by Hunter Allen and Stephen S. Sheung


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TT049: First time Ironman at Ironman Louisville

Michael Welk did his first Ironman in 2014 at Ironman Louisville at age 42. His previous experience included a couple sprint triathlons Ironman Louisville Resultsseveral years ago, and just one sprint triathlon in 2014 leading up to his Ironman.  We talk about his progress and experience from November 2013, when he signed up for the race, through race day.

He started training in late 2013 but was not progressing as hoped, so he hired a triathlon coach.  He also hired a swim coach in March. Early in 2014 he couldn’t swim more than 25 yards at a time.  His prep included just one century ride in advance of the Ironman.  His goal was to finish in 15 hours.

Also in this episode

  • I answer a listener question on base training
  • An update on blue light and it’s affect on sleep
  • An update on my use of zero drop Altra running shoes

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TT048: Joe Friel on “Fast Over 50″, High Intensity Training, & More

Joe Friel

Joe Friel recently released his 14th book, Fast After 50.  It’s geared to all athletes training and competing after age 50.  Most, but not all, of the interview is centered around the book, but there is much in here that will apply to all triathletes.  Topics discussed include sleep, high intensity training, recovery, and items listed below.  Joe also gives some insight into his research process.

Joe discusses three key factors in athletic success:

Fast After 50

  • aerobic capacity
  • lactate threshold
  • economy

As athletes age, economy tends to remain stable, VO2 max suffers the greatest loss, and lactate threshold declines more slowly.  Maintaining or slowing the rate of decline in these areas should be a focus of training.

Joe talks about three key factors that negatively affect aging athletes.  They are:

  • Loss of aerobic capacity/VO2 max
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Negative trend in body fat percentage

Part of the performance loss of the aging athlete is a result of a reduction of high intensity training. This leads to a decline in aerobic capacity.   Joe talks about the importance of keeping this in, or safely adding it back into, your training regime.

Joe generally defines high intensity as a 9 effort level on a scale of 1-10.  It must be added very slowly into a training plan to reduce the risk of injury, starting with short 15 second efforts and gradually increasing the dose.  For a more detailed recommendation refer to Joe’s book.

I asked for a specific example using high intensity training for a 55 year old triathlete training for an Ironman.  With a consistent and well planned training schedule, this athlete would include high intensity training throughout the plan, with a peak dose in the Base 3 period. This would be 12-16 weeks before the race.  After that it would be reduced to a maintenance level.

More From Joe?

I asked Joe about future projects, and he just started work on a new book that is slated to be completed in 2016.  The project is being kept under wraps, but he said “It’ll be my major work of my career as far as writing books.”  Bigger than The Triathlete’s Training Bible? “Yeah.”


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TT047: A Journey With Triathlete & Cancer Survivor Bob Thibodeau

Breast Cancer Survivor Bob Thibodeau

Bob changed his diet and exercise after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002.  He got into active cycling 5 years ago and had a solid cycling base.  He did his first triathlon in 2012 and in that race he swam with his head out of water the entire race.  The longest he had run consecutively before the race was one mile, and this was a 5k race. At the advice of a friend, his goal was to race to complete, not to compete.   He finished third out of eight in his age group and his triathlon career was started.

In 2013 he had a full slate of racing, finishing with his ‘A’ race at Augusta 70.3, a half ironman.  After a successful season in which he finished first and second in his age group each race, he had a few hiccups in Augusta.  During the swim it took him several hundred meters before he could put his head in the water.  He finally did and came out of the water fourth in his age group.  He had a solid bike and was in good position using a power meter keeping his power around 140.

His longest run going into the race was only 8 miles.  In the second half of the run his hip started bothering him so he walked most of the way in. He finished 10th of 12 in his age group with a time of 6:43 (30/2:57/3:02).

He raced much less in 2014 and again ended the season with Augusta 70.3 He had a successful race, finishing third of thirteen in the 65-69 age group with a time of 6:21:27 (32/3:06/2:26).

Bob follows a ketogenic diet (high fat/low carbohydrate). He started this a few years ago to reduce his cholesterol and lower his blood pressure.  That did the trick, and he was able to get off statins. His caloric intake while racing/training is very low. Based on our conversation I’d estimate it was about 25-50 calories/hour (probably closer to 25) during the 3 hour bike.

His plan is to race Ironman Florida next year, as his goal is to race an Ironman by age 70.

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TT046: Running With Olympian Pete Pfitzinger

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Olympian, Exercise Physiologist, Author & Coach Pete Pfitzinger

Pete Pfitzinger joins the show for a conversation on running and his latest book, Faster Road Racing: 5k To Half Marathon.

Pete lives in New Zealand and works for High Performance Sport New Zealand, which oversees Olympic sports. Pete 4

Topics we discuss include:

  • variable pace tempo runs
  • short hill sprints
  • strides
  • weight training
  • plyometrics
  • cadence




TT045: Ironman Arizona Winner & Olympian Brent McMahon

At age 34 Canadian Brent McMahon attempted his first Ironman in Arizona.  Previously, he was a 2004 and 2012 Olympian, and 2014 was going well with four Ironman 70.3 wins.  On the starting line he didn’t have a time goal, nor had he even pondered a finishing time before this race.

He followed a race plan crafted with Lance Watson, his coach of 20 years.  That included a caloric intake of roughly 500 calories per hour on the bike while ignoring his competitors.  When a couple contenders passed him early in the bike he started to ride with them but backed off when he realized it required a greater power output than he planned to ride.

He finished the bike in third after a 4:21 split.  He ran the first half of the marathon in 1:20 and finished with a 2:43 run, giving him a 5 minute margin of victory and a 7:55 final time, the fastest Ironman debut in history.

Despite competing at a level far above most triathletes, his race execution tips are golden and helpful to all triathletes.

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 12.07.02 PM




TT044: A Running Discussion You’ll Want To Hear

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This interview was one of the most intriguing I’ve done.  We cover basic and technical running topics in a clearly explained format.  If your first run was last week, or you are an Ironman champion,  this episode has something for you. It’s also a good follow up to episode 43.

Cadence, Running Form, Shoes, & Barefoot Running

Dr. Thomas Hughes of Tri-Mechanics discusses his journey into the study of running form.  It all started when he decided to run barefoot one morning.

Thomas turned his attention away from practicing medicine toward studying running.  Topics we discuss include:

  • Barefoot running
  • Changes required before increasing your cadence
  • Running off the bike
  • Minimalist/zero drop/big toebox shoes
  • Run shoe cushioning
  • Using a metronome


  • @trimechanics