Episode 50 Special | EP#50

 August 17, 2017

By  Mikael Eriksson

Episode 50 Special | EP#50

Episode 50 Special

Highlights and hidden gems from the best of the best of the first 49 episodes of That Triathlon Show, to celebrate the show turning 50 episodes old!

In this Episode you'll learn about:

  • Top-10 highlights: the best of the best in terms of advice, tips, tools and tactics
  • Hidden gems: unconventional or more unknown pieces of advice and information
  • The most voted for favorite books, blogs and resources, triathlon gear and equipment, and personal habits of all TTS guests
  • The 5 most downloaded TTS episodes revealed. Have you listened to all of them?


Top-10 highlights: the best of the best in terms of advice, tips, tools and tactics

1. Episode 1​Joe Friel's advice for improving training structure and periodize your way to success

05:17 -

"The closer in time you get to your race, the more like your race your training should become"
  • Many athletes start to unconsciously second-guess their training plan the closer they get to the race and start to throw in workouts that they find in magazines, on forums, or on podcasts randomly, in search of a magic bullet workout that is going to make them a lot fitter.
  • This is obviously not the way that you should do it. In many ways planning your training becomes much easier the closer you get to your race because you can just try to simulate your race in training.
  • For example, if you are targeting an Olympic distance race, a key bike workout might be 6x10 minutes at race intensity with a few minutes of recovery between each repetition (assuming that you are shooting for close to a 1-hour bike split).​

2. Episode 3: 3 foundational elements that will make you swim faster with Gerry Rodrigues

06:44 -

  • The 3 foundational elements are:
    • Tautness
    • Alignment
    • Propulsion
  • Tautness means to engage your muscles and keep your body taut and firm. An analogy would be an uncooked spaghetti straw versus a cooked spaghetti straw. You want to have structural integrity to your body.
  • Alignment is a way to really simplify stroke advice and the way you should think about your movement patterns. From your hand entry to the very end of your stroke, keep your hand in the "channel" that’s formed by a line projected from your shoulder, and a second line that is the center of your body. So keep your hand in that channel, between that central line and the shoulder line, throughout the stroke from hand entry to exit. Simple but not easy.
  • Propulsion. Gerry put it very eloquently, “Grip it and rip it.” Keep your wrist firm and don’t "pet the kitty" as he said.

3. Episode 4How to get started in triathlon with Wendy Mader

09:38 -

  • Wendy talked about what beginners should think of when starting out in triathlon.​
  • She also talks about how to make triathlon a lifestyle and the importance of it.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to get all the latest gears and gadgets.
  • And equally important, don’t think that you have to do tons of training.
  • It’s more about being consistent than training a whole lot. Train to the level that you want to, remember to keep it fun.

4. Episode 7: How to use data to get faster with Jim Vance

11:30 -

  • He talks about the importance of being confident on the start line and how to become confident.​
  • Jim talks about using data for this. Knowing that you’ve done the work based on the data, and that you have done it right, is one way of being confident at that starting line.
  • I review my most successful recent workouts before every race. I look at the training file and my splits, and think about how I felt during that workout and try to relive it. This puts me in a confident state of mind, which makes me ready to perform.

Episode 13: The Pillars of Performance with elite coach Matt Dixon

13:12 -

  • If you’re even semi-serious about improving as a triathlete, then you can’t isolate swimming, biking, and running. You need to consider and be particular about recovery, nutrition, and strength and conditioning as well.
  • This isn’t just for the top age-groupers. This is really for everyone.
  • This episode is one of the first episodes I would recommend to any triathlete to listen to of all the 49 episodes so far.

6. Episode 16: The Great Debate: Intensity vs. Volume

14:34 -

  • If you’re a beginner, you'll gain the most from increasing your volume by increasing the frequency of workouts. They don’t need to be too long. Just do a bit more than you’ve been doing now by increasing more workouts.
  • If you’re an intermediate triathlete, you don’t train too much, and you have time to train more than you do at the moment, then you can increase the volume. Primarily, you should increase the duration of your workout.
  • Most of us are time-constrained and you’re already at your limit at what you can do time-wise. So this is when starting to do high-intensity training really comes into play and can become your path to performance improvement.
  • For advanced triathletes, the key to improving is nailing your intensity. You need to include about 10-20% of high-quality intensity in your training. These should be the kind of workouts that you really try to nail.

7. Episode 20: Masters Athletes: How to minimize the performance decline for aging triathletes

15:45 -

  • In this episode I talk about how to train for masters athletes to minimize the performance decline that comes with age. I also talk about the main reason of performance decline with age.​
"The reduction and decline in performance is associated most closely with direct reductions in exercise volume and intensity. And probably, as a consequence of changes in a number of both physical and behavioral factors. For example, increased prevalence to injuries for masters athletes, and reductions in energy perhaps, and time, motivation, and a lot of social obligations, etc."
  • This is not to say that decline won’t happen. But in many cases, a lot of what we naturally blame age for might just be your own training. There might be something that you can change in your training that will greatly reduce the reduction that you'd otherwise see.

8. Episode 26: High-performance coaching with elite coach Paulo Sousa

16:56 -

  • He talks about high-performance coaching, and here he discusses some of the wrong things that some coaches may focus on.​ This also applies to self-coached athletes.
    • Focusing too much on creating training plans and session structure. Trying to find "magic" workouts.
    • Being bogged down by details
    • Not being flexible
  • There’s certainly a big difference between coaching and programming which is what Paulo alludes to here.
  • Just having and getting a training plan is not being coached. If you’re getting coaching, you’re getting interaction, feedback and an objective review of your training, you just don’t get workouts on a piece of paper or on data screen.
  • Always keep the big picture in my mind because this is so important. I like the way Cody Beals put it in Episode 11 when he talked about self-coaching:
“Put on your coach’s hat when you’re coaching yourself and put on your athlete’s hat when you’re in execution mode and keep those rolls separate.”

9. Episode 31: How to shave 14 minutes off your Ironman bike split with Jon and Chris Thornham

​18:37 -

  • We talked about aerodynamic and rolling resistance savings from having the right wheels and tires.
  • Compared to standard equipment you'd get when buying a new bike, changing to a more ideal set of wheels and tires can save you 4 minutes per tire and 3 minutes per wheel over the course of an Ironman.
  • It  doesn't have to be Flo wheels. There are a lot of other wheels that offer similar time savings. Maybe not at the same price point that Flo offers, though.
  • There are other good tire options as well in addition to the Continental GP Force 24mm that Jon and Chris recommended. Listen to the episode for all the details.
  • Even with all the right gear and equipment, nothing replaces a great bike fit as the rider accounts for the vast majority of aerodynamic drag anyway. This should be your first action step way before even considering buying any expensive gear.
  • To learn more about aerodynamics, equipment, and bike fit, I also recommend listening to Episode 25: Aerodynamics mastery and free speed on the bike with Nuno Prazeres and Episode 47: Virtual Wind Tunnel with Andrew Buckrell and Michael Liberzon.

10. Episode 40: Race-day fueling and The Core Diet with Jesse Kropelnicki

20:42 -

  • Especially for long-course triathletes, this is one of the must listen to episodes.​
  • We talked about Race-day fueling and The Core Diet.
  • Jesse and his team have worked with 2,000-3,000 athletes developing detailed race fueling plans. They have seen everything from high sweat rate people to low sweat rate people, high salt sweaters to low salt sweaters, etc. He has worked with around 70 professional triathletes on their race fueling.
  • Race fueling is the number one limiter in long-course racing.
  • The biggest changes that Jesse and his team make with athletes' fueling are to make sure that they’re getting enough fluid and sodium. Most athletes drastically underestimate the requirements in those two areas.
  • The easy way for an athlete who’s racing a half-Ironman or Ironman to make sure that they’re drinking enough is pretty simple. You need to make sure that you pee at least once in a half-Ironman on the bike and at least twice in an Ironman. If you don’t do these two things in these races, then you are not going to perform to your potential.
  • For most athletes, their primary limiter on race day is their ability to handle what their body requires. Athletes seem to believe that just because their body requires a certain amount of carbohydrates, a certain amount of sodium, and certain amount of fluid that they’re magically just going to be able to handle it.
  • Those athletes that have a higher sweat rate may need to spend a year to train their gut to actually be able to handle what their body requires.

Hidden gems: unconventional or more unknown pieces of advice and information

​1. Episode 17: Brain training and psychobiology of endurance performance with professor Samuele Marcora

23:34 -

  • The reduction in endurance performance caused by mental fatigue (induced using a computerized task) was similar to the performance reduction induced by 100 drop jumps.​
  • This goes to show how important the mental side of things is in endurance sports.

2. Episode 36: Cool-downs - are they necessary?

​24:57 -

  • There’s not much in favor of doing cool-downs in terms of evidence-based research.
  • The only thing that has been proven is that cooling down reduces the risk of being dizzy or fainting if you stop to a dead still. So try not to do that – stop to a dead still – but walk around for a couple of minutes after you stop your workouts.​

3. Sleep from various episodes

26:02 -

"You’re not going to get in the quality training session if you’re skimping on sleep all the time. Sometimes it’s better to opt to skip that training and make sure you’re getting enough sleep.​"

-Mary Beth Ellis - Episode 32
"We don’t get nearly enough sleep. When I was coaching, I required the athletes that I coached to get a lot of sleep every night. A lot of sleep means that they wake up without an alarm clock."

-Joe Friel - Episode 1
"The number one recovery tool that you have - and it's free is sleep."

-Matt Dixon - Episode 13
"Take recoveries as seriously as the workouts. A lot of age-groupers are fantastic at smashing workouts but not so great about respecting their bedtime, or having a nap, or having good nutrition. This is equally as important."

-Cody Beals - Episode 11
"... a focus on quality of sleep, to try to find ways to maximize your recovery during sleep."

-Chad Timmerman - Episode 38

4. Episode 42: Heart Rate Variability (HRV) for triathletes with Dan Plews

28:04 -

  • ​Track the rolling average of your HRV and comparing it your with baseline and see if the rolling average increases during a hard block of training. This is probably the most important thing that you should track within the realm of HRV.

5. Episode 28: Peak Performance - The Science of Success with Brad Stulberg

29:56 -

  • This is one of my favorites. It's about peak performance not just in triathlon, but also in life. Brad talks about being an anti-hack person.​
"There are no hacks. There a lot of books in this genre that talk about the hacks. For example, if you just take these supplements, or if you wear this weird electrical headband, or if you intermittently fast and sleep.

None of these things together is going to make you a better performer.

Becoming better at anything is really hard and it takes time. The only way to do it is to embrace the journey."

  • There’s this saying that it takes a long time to become an overnight success. This is especially true in triathlon. You can’t hack your way there, you need to just "chop wood and carry water" as Paulo Sousa also said.

The most voted for favorite books, blogs and resources, triathlon gear and equipment, and personal habits of all TTS guests

31:50 -

The favorite book, blog, or resource related to triathlon or to the guest's specific field of expertise


Honorable mentions:

The favorite piece of gear or equipment


  • Power meter, by a landslide

Personal habit that helped you achieve success​

  • Winner: Consistency
  • 2nd place: Sleep
  • 3rd place: Napping

The 5 most downloaded TTS episodes

33:59 -

1. Episode 1: Joe Friel's advice for improving training structure and periodize your way to success​

2. Episode 17: Brain training and psychobiology of endurance performance with professor Samuele Marcora​

​3. Episode 11: Master Ironman 70.3 training with pro triathlete Cody Beals

​4. Episode 3: 3 foundational elements that will make you swim faster with Gerry Rodrigues

5. Episode 40: Race-day fueling and The Core Diet with Jesse Kropelnicki​


I am currently (August 2017) taking on new athletes as I transition from my engineering job to working full time on Scientific Triathlon. If you want to learn more (or already know that you want me to coach you), email me at mikael@scientifictriathlon.com.

Links and resources

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Mikael Eriksson

I am a full-time triathlon coach, founder of Scientific Triathlon, and host of the top-rated podcast That Triathlon Show. I am from Finland but live in Lisbon, Portugal.

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