Monday, December 26, 2011

The Spinervals SUPER 6! It's Awesome, It's FREE, It starts JAN. 2, '12!!

Welcome to The Spinervals Super 6.  Why is it called the Super 6? Because by following this training regimen over the next 6 weeks you’ll discover a new level of fitness and be on your way to achieving all of your personal fitness goals and objectives in 2012.   6 DAYS A WEEK FOR 6 WEEKS = RESULTS! 

Workouts will be posted daily on the Spinervals Facebook page and target the needs of the triathlete, cyclist and general fitness enthusiast including suggestions for bike workouts, running workouts and cross-training sessions for strength and flexibility development.   PLEASE NOTE: THIS WORKOUT REGIMEN IS NOT DESIGNED FOR BEGINNERS. YOU NEED A SOLID BASE OF FITNESS PRIOR TO STARTING THE PROGRAM. 

The plan is designed to include from 1-2 hours of training during the weekdays, a long weekend workout and a day off, totaling 11-15 hours of training per week.  There are also a few ‘wildcard’ days and workouts where you can add some variety to the schedule, or even take an extra day off if needed.  You’ll do some benchmark testing near the beginning and again at the end of the program in order to measure your progress. The overall flavor of this 6-week block of training is aerobic base and technique development, with a weekly dose of interval or tempo work... to keep it real! 

AS WITH ANY TRAINING PROGRAM, IT’S IMPORTANT TO MONITOR YOURSELF AND LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.  Go easy or take an additional day off as needed. Stay healthy and injury free.

Triathletes will notice that there are 3-4 days of aerobic foundation run workouts planned each week.  Some more experienced triathletes may wish to add another run each week to the plan or boost volume and/or intensity.  Non-runners are asked to substitute other means of low impact cardio training (i.e. elliptical machine, rower, stair-climber, etc.) in place of running.  And who knows… maybe this will encourage some athletes to add running to their fitness routine and try a tri! (Sorry, swim training was not included in this plan. We have lots of event specific training plans available for triathletes, including Ironman plans. Go HERE,, To learn more.)

We’ll be using heart rate and/or power to focus on various energy systems, so familiarize yourself with our training zones found HERE (  It’s up to you to choose your daily sessions (or do them all!) to suit your particular athletic needs and goals.  You can receive the added benefits of having workouts delivered daily to your inbox and to log your training progress by registering for a FREE Training Peaks account attached to me as your coach.  Click the following link or paste it to your browser in order to download the plan to your trainingpeaks calendar, starting Mon. Jan 2, 2012:
(Note: If you already have a trainingpeaks account, you can purchase the plan for FREE and then apply it to your calendar. Contact TrainingPeaks customer support if you have any technical website related questions.)

Each day, you’ll train according to the workout plan.  And to keep it fun while being accountable to your plan and the other athletes from around the world joining you, you’re encouraged to log your workout comments each day on the Spinervals Facebook Page.  There’s nothing like sharing your results and accomplishments in public to keep you honest and on track!

And since research has proven that people who attach themselves to social groups and events tend to ‘stick’ with things longer and enjoy the experience more, I encourage you to get at least 3 of your close friends to join you in doing the program. Sure, it’ll be challenging at times … and that’s when you might need some camaraderie in order to get the workouts done.  After all, misery loves company!  So, enlist 3 friends to join you by forwarding them this information. Who knows, it might just help them change their lives for the better!

Here’s a list of the recommended workouts videos in my training series for this 6-week phase of training.  Daily optional workouts are recommended for your convenience, in case you don’t have the recommended title. (Members of receive a 20% Discount on all DVD purchases. Go HERE , ,  to learn more and save some dough.)

Spinervals Competition Series: (Catalog link HERE,
5, 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 26, 27, 28,  30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39
Strendurance 12-Week Progression (
Flexible Warrior Athletic Yoga - Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (

At the end of the Super 6 Program, you’ll find that your overall fitness level is rockin’ and you’ll be ready to attack a more specific “pre-competition” phase of your training progression as the indoor training season starts to come to a close.  Oh, and be on the lookout for a continuation of the Super 6!! 

Good luck and get on it!
- Coach Troy

P.S. If you are a participant in the 32-Day Challenge, you need to consider taking a day or two OFF after the last workout in the challenge to regroup and get ready for the Super 6 phase of training.  I would suggest 48-72 hours of 'easy exercise' for most athletes prior to jumping back into a new regimen. Good luck!!

Disclaimer: This and all training programs can be dangerous to your health if you are inadequately prepared to do them.  See your doctor and get his approval prior to starting this training regimen. By participating in this plan, you do so at your own risk and release Troy Jacobson and affiliated companies and persons from liability.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

What Is...The IRONMAN Athlete's "Off-Season"??

"Off Season". What in the world does that mean anymore for an Ironman triathlete? Is there such a thing as an "off-season" nowadays... or does one phase of your training blend into the next so it seems like there is just one continuous in-season?  Confusing, right? Well, I'm going to confuse you a little more as well as hopefully give you some clarity at the same time.

First, I believe in having an off-season of some variety.  We're not machines, even though many triathletes think they are.  Exercise is stressful on the body. In fact, one of my favorite definitions of exercise is that it is "controlled injury".  Exercise for Ironman competition and you're injuring the crap out of yourself each and every day per that definition! And if you continue to do it week after week year-round, you'll traumatize your tissues to the extent that they'll break down and you WILL get hurt.  From the perspective of avoiding classic overuse injury alone, you need a break... but there's more to it than that.

Next, let's talk performance.  Wouldn't it be nice to be in Ironman shape year-round? You know what I mean... the kind of conditioning where you can bike 100 miles as if it's like rolling down the boardwalk on your cruiser on a summer day or run 20 miles as if it's like a walk in the park.  The more you train, the better you feel.  You're tan, shaved down, focused, lean and vascular and you can eat practically everything you want.  And you know you're in GREAT IM shape when your mom tells you that you're too lean and wants to feed you sandwiches and ice cream. Being in Ironman shape is a special kind of "drug", but if we truly want to improve year after year, we need to get off of that "Ironman High" for awhile every year and allow the body (and mind) to rest in order to take fitness to the next level.  If not... we overtrain and hit that dreaded plateau.

The Iron plateau.  Train smart for Ironman racing for anywhere from 3-5 years, complete around 5 Ironman events and you'll see what I'm referring to.  The first 2-3 races you do, lopping off 5-10% on your overall time is not uncommon as your body adapts rapidly to your training and you begin to near your genetic potential. Around the 5th Ironman, many people will start to see where they 'live' in the field and improvements come in very small, incremental gains...if at all sometimes.  If you try to stay Ironman-fit year round, you'll hit that plateau faster and find it more difficult to break through.  Remember... if you keep doing what you're doing, you'll keep getting the same result.

So, do you need an off-season?  Well, yes... but some of you need a longer off-season than others do... and it all depends on your goals, your training experience and your time spent training.  We are all an experiment of one and respond differently to training.   Let's take look at two "typical" Ironman triathletes as case studies:

Athlete "A":  This athlete is fairly typical as an age grouper in that they are in in the 35-45 yr. old range and have been doing triathlons for 2-4 years. They train around 8-10 hours per week most of the time, practicing each sport anywhere from 2-3 times per week. During the build-up weeks to Ironman, they'll boost training volume to 15-18 hrs per week with the bulk of their workload happening during longer workouts on the weekends. Weekdays include work and other family activities, so they tend to have 1-2 hours / day, split between early morning sessions and perhaps one at lunch or one after work. One day off a week is dedicated to recovery and getting other stuff done.

Athlete "B":  This athlete is either a younger athlete or is someone 35+ who makes training and triathlon a life priority and carves out 15 - 25 hours a week to train, year-round.  Some peak weeks even approach the "Pro Level" of  30+ hours in a week.  Lots of time and energy is spent on training and recovery to eek every last bit of performance out of their bodies.  Triathlon consumes most, if not all, of their spare time.

Do you 'fit', even remotely, into either group??  

Athlete 'A' , in my philosophy, should have a very short off-season if they wish to see improvement next season.  After their last key race of the season, a short break of a couple weeks should transition back into a focused regimen of technique work and base building because fitness (due to age and lack of 'base'/miles in the legs) is lost quickly and is hard to get back.   Since overall training volumes are fairly low week after week, they need to get their workloads up in that 8-10 hrs / week range soon after their 'break' and resume building fitness as they head into the new season.  Furthermore, more intense training should be included in their program to make up for a lack of overall volume.  (* See below for another consideration.)  Consistency, with daily training in small doses, is key.

Athlete 'B' is facing a different regimen.  They are likely nearing their performance potential with the huge workloads they do, so simply pounding themselves with more volume during the off-season is counter productive as they risk overtraining, injury and plateauing. After their last big race and a break of 4-8 weeks to decompress, in which they remain in good shape with low volume sport specific training and other random "fun" activities (i.e. 'exercising', not 'training'), they need to gradually ramp workloads back up, rebuild aerobic base, focus on technique, flexibility and strength development and then, after 6-10 weeks, resume their higher volume focus for aerobic endurance development.

So, in the "old days" it was not uncommon to see athletes completely hang up their bike and their running shoes during the off-season, relax like kings and queens and gain 5-15 lbs. (been there, done that!).  Nowadays, especially for the Age group Ironman athlete over the age of 35, it's more important than ever to focus on staying fit (not Ironman fit!) during the off-season but while changing focus slightly to working on weaknesses, technique, flexibility training and strength development.   It'll be good for your head, and your body.

Train smart this winter and decompress from your long season of training and racing with a short break. If you fit the profile of athlete A, get back on the horse sooner than later... and if you fit the profile of athlete B, rest a little more so as to take a step up to the next level.  If you need any help in determining your off-season training needs, shoot me an email or a message on my Spinervals Facebook page and I'll be happy to offer you some ideas.

Best wishes,

- Coach Troy
Official Coach of IRONMAN
Head Tri Coach for LIFE TIME FITNESS,

* TIP:  I have found that a single sport focus during the off-season can pay dividends long after a more balanced approach to multisport training is resumed.  Using the bike for example, try a 4-6 week block of focused bike training including plenty of threshold and power based training, combined with aerobic base and aerobic endurance work.  Afterwards, allow for 1-2 weeks of transitioning to a more balanced swim/bike/run approach and you might be amazed at how much stronger you are on the bike for the rest of the season!  If you're interested in being your own guinea pig and giving it a shot, join over 500 athletes doing the free Spinervals 32 Day Challenge.  

Follow Troy on TWITTER and on FACEBOOK

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Spinervals Challenge Update #4 | Testing Day

Anyone need some videos for the Challenge? I've got a box or two sitting around the house. :)

Hey, day one is over for many and the Threshold test is now history. Tough? Still want to do this? Still have me on your Christmas list?  I bet it was hard, especially if you have not done any threshold intensity training lately.  Use it or lose it, as the old saying goes.  And now that you're starting to use it again, let's build on that momentum!

Tomorrow's workout is an old favorite, Spinervals 16.0 - Aero Base I. This zone 2 (aerobic intensity) workout should be comfortable while burning some calories and building your aerobic energy system. It's a good 'recovery' workout to the high intensity test you took today! Remember to stay in that aerobic base zone, which for many the upper ceiling is about 10% below the average HR you posted for your 20 min. Test (i.e. Avg. HR of 150 bpm means the upper limit to your zone 2 is around 135 bpm).  It's comfortable and sustainable for long periods of time.

We have some great blog posts going too!  See how your fellow Spinervals Challengers are doing! Here's one from Michelle  and one from Jeff.  And of course, here's a video from our friend in Australia, JR, (Click HERE), as he does his test.  Also, great job to everyone who is posting their results and encouraging words on our FB page, like Brigitta, Len, Tim, James, Sheryl, Roger, Shane, Alan, Gina, Ken and Christine, to name a few.  Please continue to actively participate as it keeps everyone accountable to do better.  Overall, awesome work... only 30 more days to go. ;-)

Get these workouts done... one day at a time.  Let's achieve the goal of completing the Challenge! You can do it!

Train well,
Coach Troy