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For my cyclists that have power meters, I like to use a combination of heart rate and power numbers for some workouts. One reason I do this is to flush out fitness data that would otherwise be hidden. Let me give you an example.

If the assignment is to ride at Zone 2 heart rate (the biological response), the athlete does that workout without regard to power output or speed. This kind of workout has its place in training and I do use it.

If the assignment is to produce Zone 2 power, the athlete completes the workout and typically comments in the feedback section. A comment might be, “Heart rate high (or low) for Zone 2 power.”  Or they might comment, “Workout went well.” In any case I do get information from this workout – and the workout has its place in my mix of workouts.

Sometimes, I use a combination of heart rate and power so the athlete can drive the highest power possible on that day, while limiting the biological cost. Below is a sample workout for an athlete with a current Zone 2 top-end wattage of 135 and top-end Zone 2 heart rate of 136. I wanted an aerobic workout  that produced the highest possible power during specific intervals.


The workout

Do a 10-minute warm-up.

The entire workout is 4 repeats of the following:

5 minutes at ~135 watts (Keeping heart rate 136 or below. If you can push higher watts than 135 for a cost of 136 heart rate – do it.)

5 minutes at 120 watts or less (Zone 1 heart rate)

End with easy spinning at Zone 1 heart rate

One of my athletes (power and heart rate data used in the sample above) recently returned from a ski trip in Switzerland. He skied for six days at an altitude of 3000 to 4000 meters. He lives at sea level. Though he was only at altitude for a week, his results for the workout I describe above showed a marked change. He was able to push wattages much greater than 135 while keeping heart rate low. Important to note, his low heart rate felt low and the effort felt easy. (Sometimes athletes note that a low heart rate feels really hard – i.e. Zone 2 heart rate feels like Zone 3.)

You can see his graph below.

Power after altitude 2013_edited.jpg

(You can select the graph to make it larger.)

Did his time at altitude change his ability to push higher wattage for a low - aerobic - cost? Is this result just part of his increased fitness due to the training mix? (It’s important to note I’ve worked with this person for a few years.) Or, was this workout a performance fluke? (He was able to produce more wattage than what is normal, given this heart rate.)

The questions are reasonable and I’ll continue to monitor his performance to see if it is time to make an adjustment to training zones.

If you are a self-coached athlete, it is important to cross-reference training zone data from time to time to be sure you are getting the most benefit from the workouts. You can get some of this data from testing – but – I believe it is important to sample workout data as well.



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669 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: altitude, power, heart_rate

Q.  HeyGale ~ I had to skip a workout in your Olympic Distance Triathlon Race Plan, Intermediate: 5.75 to 10.5 hrs/wk and I feel very guilty. Is feeling guilty and remorseful normal? Also, I wanted to make up the workout tomorrow, is that wise? D. B.

A.  Hi D.B. ~ I’ve found that goal-oriented people that have a task list to complete (a training plan is a task list) will often feel guilty, remorseful or sometimes angry when missing a workout. By your description, I suspect you didn’t miss the workout because you didn’t feel like sweating; rather you missed the workout due to a life-scheduling conflict. Don’t worry about missing a workout now and then. Also, don’t try to make the workout up by pushing it into tomorrow’s workout load.  Just pick up the training plan tomorrow with the regularly planned workout(s) and you will be fine. If you can execute the majority of the workouts in the plan, you should be able to complete the event. If you miss several high-speed workouts, your time goals will likely suffer.This may require that you rework your race goals and not be as aggressive with time or race day placement.

For many athletes, triathlon is an excellent sport to help them stay fit and healthy. Pressure often comes from performance goals rather than fitness goals. It is fine to be performance oriented, but don’t allow time goals to take the fun out of sport.



Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

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592 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: guilt_skipping_a_workout


I’ve received several questions on racingin heat and humidity. I wrote a two-part column that can help you racesuccessfully. Here is an excerpt:

Whether you travel for racing or not, you may find yourself concerned with acclimation to heat and humidity. Consider the following situations:

  • You train in cool fall air and your next     race is in a hot environment.
  • You train in cool spring air and the     first race of the season is in a hot city.
  • You live in a city that is always cool     relative to the locations where you race.
  • You live in a hot, dry environment but     plan to travel to a hot, humid environment for a race.
  • You live and work in an air conditioned     environment but race in a hot and humid environment. 

Take a look at PartI - Acclimating to Heat and Humidity




Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

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629 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, and, racing, heat, humidity, acclimitization

Q. Hey Gale ~ I just read an article about training like the pros. The column was basically about high volume and high intensity training.  I read another column that emphased high volume and low intensity. Finally, I read another  column about time-crunched athletes doing low volume and very high intensity. I’m so confused. Can you help? I trust your advice because of your long track record of working with all types of athletes. Thanks ~ B. F. 

A. Hello B. F. ~ I’ve used the different types of training formats you describe in your note. The short answer is the type of training you should use depends on your athlete profile which includes sport experience, available time to train, recovery time available and your endurance goals to name a few key areas. The mix of workouts within any training plan should be aimed at achieving your goals – not a random mix of workouts tossed together for fun. That is, unless your primary training goal is fun and variety.

With two to four key or stressful workouts in the mix each week aimed at improving your performance limitors, the remaining workouts need to be recovery and/or technique oriented.

Then you need some patience. Stick with the training strategy for at least three to six weeks to see if you are making progress. If progress is not being made, make plan adjustments. Generally, most people associate plan adjustments with more volume and/or intensity when they really need more recovery.

If you want specific recommendations on your training plan, drop me an email at and we can schedule a consulting session.



Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

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562 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: cycling, triathlon, mountain_bike, different_types_of_training

Thanks to our BETA calendar users' feedback, we were able to determine the top features that will enhance the scheduling and calendar experience for all eteamz users.  The new calendar will launch this Wednesday, February 20th with all these features integrated for your use!

Check out the cool new eteamz calendar— the interface is more modern and intuitive than the old calendar options, with a lot more functionality.

Here are some highlights of what you can do with it:

  • Easily navigate around
  • Drag and drop events
  • Cancel events
  • Import and export events, games and practices
  • Share events across leagues and teams
  • Set up recurring events
  • View by month, week, day and list


Don’t worry, no functionality has been removed—you can still access all of your games, events and practices separately.  It’s now just easier to manage and share all of those important dates your membership needs to know about. 


calendar eteamz.jpg

6,974 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Hey Gale~

My 15-year-old just got his first road bike and is already a good swimmer. He’s swam competitively for five years and will swim on the high school team. He's a good, strong rider too. He beat me last year in a mountain bike race.

What tips/suggestions would you have for a teen triathlete?  I've never done one as I suck at running. ~ A.S.



Hi A.S. ~

I'm working with a 14-year-old right now. My main goal is to make "workouts" as fun as possible.

Your son has an advantage with swim team and track in his back pocket. When he is doing his primary sport for school, minimize or eliminate the other two sports. Any time spent doing other sports during the competitive season of his school sport, should be completely aerobic and relatively short. Foundation technique skills and drills is always a good pick during this time.

When he's out of his school sport responsibilities you can add the other sports back into the mix. For the fellow I’m coaching, I had him do two workouts in each sport each week and he had good results. I rotated which sport had intervals or higher intensity segments and generally all the intervals were well under 5 minutes. If he did longer intensity segments, it was usually related to a hill climb and learning about pacing.

Hope that helps ~ Gale



Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

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Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

551 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: teen_tri

Often, I get the question “Is alpine (downhill) skiing aerobicor is it all anaerobic?”

The answer depends on the skier, ability, type of runs skied and intensity of skiing. I’ll show you a file from a recent day of skiing. You can find it here.

I decided to carry my Garmin on this particular day of skiing. I did forget to start the unit early in the day, so I’m missing some data. I estimate I’m missing about 2062 elevation gain and 1125 elevation loss making the total loss 16,971 feet.

If I use my aerobic cycling zones, my estimated time in Zones 1-2 is roughly 1:10. The time I spent at Zone 3+ is some 10 to 20 minutes. I estimate actual skiing time (subtracting lift “moving” time out of total moving time of ~3 hours) to be around 2 hours. That leaves some 30 minutes just under Zone 1 low end.

The entire day’s outing was 5:50 (again estimating lost data). The lunch stop ended up being around 1:30 as I met some friends.

For me, it was a big day of skiing. It was my first day this season. Before lunch, on many of the runs I tried to ski a steady pace top to bottom with no (or minimal) stops. These runs were mostly aerobic.

When I went into bumpy terrain, I did stop more to recover from the higher intensity efforts.

On this day, with the type of skiing I did my effort while skiing was mostly aerobic. There were some anaerobic sections as well.


So the short answer to the question is, “both”.






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543 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: skiing, anaerobic, downhill, aerobic, alpine

This is the season when folks training for the Boston Marathon start to ramp up their runs. Having just talked this morning to a Team in Training group, I know that many runners have questions about how to best recover after runs that last longer than 12 miles.  Hence,I am reposting this blog that a student of mine wrote last year at this time.


Boston Marathon Bound - Recovery foods

What to eat or drink after a long run is a hot topic among runners. What you do or don’t consume can effect how you feel later in the day, as well as at your next workout.



After a long run, your biggest priority should be to replace fluids lost from sweat. Hopefully you drank some water or sports drink on your run, but you will still need to replace some fluid. The best way to determine how much to drink is to weigh yourself before and after your run (without clothes). For every pound lost, drink at least 16 oz of water; better yet, 24 ounces. At this point, there is little need for sports drinks, as long as you’re planning to eat something shortly. Your next meal or snack will replenish the lost sodium and glucose. However, sports drinks can be a good option if your stomach isn’t ready for food. Chicken broth, cola, or gingerale are other popular options that may help settle a queasy stomach.

Remember to continue to drink fluids throughout the day to continue to stay hydrated. You can monitor your hydration by the color and amount of your urine. When properly hydrated your urine will be a pale yellow (unless you take supplements, in which case, the color may be brighter), and you will urinate every 2-3 hours.



In addition to properly hydrating, you will want to eat shortly after a long run to replenish your glycogen stores. Make sure this meal or snack is a mix of carbohydrates (to refuel) with a little protein (to repair). While many runners strive for a ratio of 4 to 1 or 3 to 1 carbohydrates to protein, the exact ratio isn’t mandatory. Just be sure you fill-up with more carbs than protein. That is, don't have just a protein shake!


Some easy to prepare carb-protein recovery meals include:

-       Fruit smoothie made with yogurt or milk

-       Turkey sandwich with a piece of fruit

-       Yogurt with berries and granola

-       Bowl of beany soup such a minestrone, with whole grain crackers and low fat cheese

-       Oatmeal with milk, raisins, and slivered almonds

-       Peanut butter (or other nut butter) and banana sandwich

-       Vegetable omelet with toast


If you aren’t ready for a meal after your run, make a small snack such as a glass of chocolate milk, a bowl of cereal with milk, or an apple with peanut butter.


Rapidly refueling by eating immediately after a run is most important for people who will be running again in the next 4 to 6 hours. Most of us can simply eat within an hour after running and will recover well. Yet, a benefit to eating shortly after your run is to keep the cookie monster from showing up!


Even if your stomach doesn’t feel hungry post-run, your muscles want fuel. Feed them! Signs of hunger include irritability and fatigue. Eating even just a small snack post-run and then your meal a few hours later can keep you from becoming ravenous and overeating later in the day. You will also likely feel more energized and recover faster.


Happy eating and running!


Written by guest blogger Sarah Gold.


For more information:

Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions

2,501 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: boston_marathon, nancy_clark, long_runs, recovery_foods, what_to_eat_after_a_long_run

I assigned a power-based workout to an athlete. It is a standard workout that I use for several of my cyclists and triathletes. When I modified the power goals for her, I inadvertently put in a range that was above her current tested goal range.

She tried the workout and was able to achieve the power numbers on the first three-minute interval, but her heart rate was higher than her threshold values that I was looking for. (I use a combination of heart rate and power to build fitness for athletes that have power meters.)

When she decided that I really wanted her to be at her threshold power values (tested within the last few weeks), she dropped the power down to the range we had previously used. That range produced less of a biological response (heart rate lower than threshold heart rate) than was intended for the workout.

The result?

We adjusted the power range up and now she is pushing higher power numbers and getting the heart rate response we want. Her good power performance wasn’t a one-time fluke workout.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a similar situation occur with an athlete. Though I do like time trial tests to determine power or pace ranges, those tests are not infallible. Sometimes fatigue, dehydration or other factors cause the test values to be too low.

Use your training zones (power, pace or heart rate) with a grain of salt. Be sure you are achieving the power output for the cost (heart rate) that you’re looking to achieve - or vice versa. Watch for trends and make small adjustments. Examine the results and change – or don’t change – training zones accordingly.



Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

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489 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, power, zones

Elk Turd Trophies.



While the highly sought after lacquered elk turd trophies are certainly a big bonus, most people aim to be a member of this group because the trophy represents a goal that isn’t easy, yet it’s not impossible. This is true for every level of endurance athlete.

The minimum distance to achieve the goal is roughly 21miles, nearly all of which is uphill. For those with loads of endurance and riding from the nearby city of Fort Collins, the round trip is more like 70 to 80 miles.

For the 2012 award cycle, 15 people earned (or will soon earn) their 12-consecutive-months-ride-to-Estes-Park trophy. Over the years, I’ve asked people what drives them to aim for the turd trophy goal. Here are some of the comments:

  • I knew someone else that achieved the goal and I was inspired.
  • A friend talked me into doing it. Without a buddy, I wouldn’t have made it that first year.
  • It seemed like a worthy challenge – not too easy, yet not impossibly hard.
  • It's just fun.
  • It helps me keep a longer ride in my training through winter.
  • All the cool people have elk turd trophies.
  • It motivates me ride outdoors in the winter. Without this goal, I wouldn’t be riding outside at all.
  • Once I started doing the ride, I became addicted.
  • Even though I seldom ride with others aiming for the same goal, I still feel like I’m part of the team or the group. I know others are out there rooting for me and doing the ride as well.
  • I like the ride memories created from some ofthe tough conditions. And, suffering is best done with others.


This isn’t an all-inclusive list by any means. If you’re having trouble keeping on track for your fitness goals, perhaps something in this list or in a past Estes blog will inspire you?





Loveland Cake Guy Chris Brown crafted the party cake.




Bill Frielingsdorf (L) wins the creative cycling outfit award. Kevin McSweeney, I suspect, is envious.




Party attendees Scott Ellis, Chris Brown, Gale Bernhardt, Pam Leamons, Bill Frielingsdorf, Lee Rhodes, Ron Kennedy, Jerry Nicholes, Kevin McSweeney, Brandy Staves, Todd Singiser and Peter Stackhouse. (The background model is not an elk, but a deer. Just in case you were wondering.)


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403 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: park, trophies, elk, bust, estes, estes_or_, turd

I was consulting with an athlete that wondered why his progress was stunted and he couldn’t gain fitness. He told me verbally what he was doing for workouts and strength training.

When we examined logged data, his volume was actually 30 percent lower than his memory recalled.

Log your workouts - no matter what system you use. If you’re not logging your workouts, your memory may be too generous and all that does is limit your progress.




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459 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, log

A couple of years ago, I sent out daily tweets that suggested people try to do something (nutrition, stress relief, exercise, knowledge growth, etc.) for just one day. This series is a twist on that concept in that there are fewer challenges – but the time commitment is longer.

Everyone has bad habits that get in the way of progress. Everyone can stand to improve diet, fitness, flexibility, strength, balance, or some other aspect of daily living. The concept is to commit to changing one thing for just one week. It might be something you want to continue doing or something that is done to just break a bad habit.


Those that are interested in publically sharing goals and seeing ideas presented by others can share on my Facebook page.

I’ll begin – I am giving up cheese for one week. I will bring it back into my diet in a week, but I’ve been enjoying too much of it.Too many calories have been going to this food item.


Here's another example, a local athlete that doesn’t have a Facebook account is limiting soda to one per day. His soda consumption has unwittingly grown.

Another athlete vows to run three times this week - just 20 to 30 minutes each time.

You? What do you want to do this week to break a bad habit or start a new, desireable habit?



Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

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474 Views 0 Comments Permalink

Warning:  Before reading this blog, consider that I could be just another person looking to justify doing the things they love to do – in spite of some evidence indicating that very activity is potentially harmful to health.

About a month ago, I wrote a blog that looked at research asking if endurance exercise is actually detrimental to your health. Over the last few weeks, I’ve given this blog and the research considerable thought. One of the first things that came to my mind was research that indicated as much as 90-percent of research is flawed. I looked at this issue in my blog “Are researchers just a bunch of manipulative liars?”

I also went back and read the research paper I referenced in last month’s blog. A couple of thoughts came to mind:

  • Though the research noted, “Serologic markers of cardiac damage, including cardiac troponin, creatine kinase MB, and B-typenatriuretic peptide, have been documented to increase in up to 50% of participants during and after marathon running” – I kept thinking, “What about the other 50% of the people?” If this is a genetic issue – perhaps I’m one of the lucky ones? Maybe I'm one of the "other" 50%  that is not negatively affected?
  • I also considered the cardiac changes in mice forced to do endurance exercise via electric shock. My thought was, “Of course they would show stressful cardiac changes – they were being electrically forced to run!”
  • In none of the studies cited in the research paper were 100% of the people adversely affected by high intensity or long duration exercise. This leaves me to wonder about the people that were not adversely affected – did they live longer? Are their lives somehow better?

One of the athletes I coach sent me a link to a New York Times column noting that researchers believe due to our endurance capabilities as humans, we developed bigger brains. Our very existence is due to  endurance exercise.

Ah ha! There – proof that endurance exercise is good.

I also read a column about 91-year-young Sven Wiik that was an Olympian, “was always fixated on sports” and still skis nearly every day.

Ah ha! Here’s a living example of someone immersed in sport that is an excellent, healthy 91.

Then, across my desk came research that Olympic medalists live an average of 2.5 years longer than the general population.

Few athletes workout longer and more intensely than Olympians and they enjoy longevity. Perhaps some this longevity is due to endurance exercise  past the age of 40?

After mulling all of this around in my head for awhile, I decided that I enjoy endurance sport. I love doing long bike rides, long runs and hours of Nordic skiing. Research does interest me, but I also understand the limitations of any research on human beings. We are complicated and it is impossible to account for controlling all the variables in any research study, including genetic influences.


All things considered, I plan to continue doing the endurance sports and racing that I love to do – until the time when I no longer feel like doing those sports. I figure I’m on the earth for a limited amount of time and I plan to take personal responsibility for spending my time as I please while I’m here.

I might cut years off of my life or suffer cardiac changes that aren’t healthy.

Or, I might live to be over 100 still doing endurance sports making researchers ask “Why? How?”


How do you plan to spend your time on earth?





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516 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: endurance, to, health, exercise, longevity, detrimental

I wrote a recent column on balance exercises. Not only do these exercises help your balance and strengthen your ankles, they help with balancing coordination right to left side.

There’s an easy way to add balance work to your dailyhabits. It works best if you have an electronic toothbrush that alerts you to 30-second segments to brush each section of your teeth.

With each segment (inner lower teeth, outer lower teeth, inner upper teeth, and outer upper teeth) alternate left leg, right leg, left leg and right leg for 30-second segments. Of course you can go for one-minute per leg too.

Depending on how often you brush your teeth, you can get some two to six minutes of balance work accomplished every day!


Thanks to Janet Saxon for this trick.



Detailed off-season plans for triathlon andcycling, along with event-specific running, cycling and more triathlonplans found here.

Comments can be added on Facebook.

Ironman and half-Ironman plans available on ActiveTrainer.

499 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: balance, running, cycling, skiing, exercises

Being injured is one of the hardest parts of being an athlete. If and when you do get injured, you’ll likely wonder how to eat better to heal better. My motherly advice is: Don’t treat good nutrition like a fire engine!


Rather than shaping up your diet when you get injured,strive to maintain a high quality food intake every day. That way, you'll have a hefty bank account of vitamins and minerals stored in your liver, ready and waiting to be put into action. For example, a well-nourished athlete has enough vitamin C (important for healing) stored in the liver to last for about six weeks. The junk food junkie who gets a serious sports injury (think bike crash,skiing tumble, hockey blow) and ends up in the hospital has a big disadvantage. Eat smart every day!


The fear of gaining weight plagues most injured athletes.Here are two myths, debunked!


MYTH: Muscle turns into fat.

Wrong. If you are unable to exercise, your muscles will shrink, but they will not turn into fat. Have you ever seen the scrawny muscles on a person who has just had a cast removed when the broken bone has healed? Those muscles did not get fat!


MYTH: Lack of exercise means you'll get fat.

Wrong. If you overeat while you are injured (as can easily happen if you are bored or depressed), you can indeed easily get fat. I know of many frustrated athletes who have quickly gained weight because they continued to eat lumberjack portions. But if you eat mindfully, your body can regulate a proper intake. Before diving into meals and snacks, ask yourself, “How much of this fuel does my body actually need?” Eat for fuel, not entertainment.


When injured, some underweight athletes do gain to their genetic weight. For example, a 13-year-old gymnast perceived her body was “getting fat” while she recuperated from a knee injury. She was simply catching up and attaining the physique appropriate for her age and genetics.


Whatever you do, don't skimp on protein and calories when injured ... that will delay healing.


With best wishes for good health,



For more information:

Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

3,149 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: weight, injury, athlete, nancy_clark, weight_gain_while_injured