Training Tips from 5x Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon Winner, Andy Potts
Hi guys, ASICS triathlete Andy Potts here! The 2014 Escape From Alcatraz triathlon is just around the corner. For those of you triathletes out there I wanted to give you some of my pro tips for how to train for the race and for race day itself. As you can imagine, training for a grueling event like Escape from Alcatraz isn't easy, but here’s how I train and I hope it helps you too!
Training for the Run - One of my favorite workouts is when you run an 'out-and-back' and race against yourself. Pretty straightforward: you run out a pre-determined time/distance and then try to beat that time by 1-3+ minutes coming back. This type of workout is great for Escape from Alcatraz as it is an out and back course where you can really gain ground on your competition by being strong on the back half of the run.
Bike Training - Your typical bike training will serve you well on this course. During training spend some time working on carrying speed through turns/cornering. In addition, the bike course also requires some quick power 'jumps' where you can put in a big 'out of the saddle' effort to carry over some of the shorter climbs. While training, practice riding at your race pace with 30 sec to 1 min jumps you are climbing out of the saddle.
Sighting During The Swim - At the pre-race briefing, the Race Director will tell you about certain landmarks based on the currents on race day. Look for those landmarks during the swim. With that, Sighting can be tricky. You are going with the current and trying to swim towards the marina so it will feel like you are swimming straight into shore - but you're not. When in doubt, follow the swimmer in front of you since there is a corridor of boats, sea kayaks, jet skis, and other water safety personnel. If you find yourself in the front, follow the lead boat and let me get a draft! You can also practice Sighting during practice in the pool: I like to do 100's where every 4th '25' I will swim with my head up every 3-5 strokes.
Race Week Training - The training is done, now it's just about maintenance and remaining fresh. I sketch out a rough plan but listen to my body on race week to decide how I will train. Typically, I will try to get in a swim/bike/run most days at about 30-40% of my normal volume but at 100% of my normal intensity. At this point you need to 'rev' your engine without tiring yourself out. The day before a race, I typically do not run but definitely try to move my body by doing a short ride or swim, with everything taking less than 1 hour.
Carbo Loading: If you like the ritual of carbo loading, it's best to do it 2 days out from the race. With that, you should be mindful that you are not training as much as normal, so you should watch your calorie intake. The day before a race, I will eat a little 'light' where my final meal, typically before 6pm, is really light with some lean protein, salt and vegetables.
Race day - Arrive Early: when in doubt, arrive 15 minutes early to avoid any undue anxiety. This will give you extra time to tackle any unforeseen obstacles that may pop up. I also like to bring something to eat that is easy to transport and easy to digest - muffins are great for this.
The Boat - I like to get into my wetsuit early so that it has time to "seed" into the armpits and groin for the proper fit. Once I have my space (limited, I know) I like to jump in place to raise my heart rate. I'll also go out on the balcony to do some arm swings or use my Stretch Cordz to prepare for the swim. Bring extra clothes and a water bottle. It can get pretty chilly and you could be waiting around for some time, so it's critical to stay hydrated and keep warm.
Conquer the Sand Ladder - The sand ladder should be broken down into thirds. The first third should almost feel easy as you establish your rhythm. In the middle third, think about being light on your feet and use the hand rope for extra propulsion. The last third you should try to build momentum so you crest the hill with speed since it is all (or mostly) downhill from there! Also, don't forget to use the ropes and posts, they are great for leverage and to help maintain your balance and move you forward.
That's pretty much it, in a nutshell. I hope this helps everyone that's taking on the Escape from Alcatraz race! It’s a really fun one so I hope to see you out in the water on June 1st!