Training & Fitness

Brick Workout

brick workout by Felipe Loureiro

What is a Brick Workout?
Bricks refer to training two different disciplines during the same workout.

Brick Workouts are an essential part of triathlon training, helping to simulate race effort with 2 combined sports (swim/run, bike/run, swim/bike)

Here is one of my favorite brick workouts: A Run/Bike/Run Brick Workout that includes practicing quick transitions.

RUN: 2 miles at a very comfortable pace (60% effort)

TRANSITION 1 (Run to Bike): Set your bike up with your shoes attached to the pedals. Use rubber bands looped between the heels and frame to hold the shoes in a horizontal position. Once on the bike, start pedaling with your feet on top of your shoes. When you are cruising at speed, coast and slip your feet into your shoes. Keep your eyes ahead on the road, not down at your feet.

BIKE: 12 miles = 4 miles focusing on high cadence (70% effort) + 4 miles at your race pace effort (80%) + 4 miles closer to your maximum effort (90%)

TRANSITION 2 (Bike to Run): As you are returning from the bike, slip your feet out of your shoes before you reach the transition area. Practice this skill first during training and be sure to gain confidence in this skill before race day!

RUN: 2 miles at your race effort (80%) *FINISHING STRONG

Brick Workouts like this are a perfect way to prepare yourself physically and mentally for your race!

brick workout

*Set up your bike and run gears as you would for race day. Lay all of your gear out in the exact same way you are planning to race. The key is to complete your transitions as fast as possible, so remember “every second counts”.

Learn this skill first during a training practice, before race day!

felipeFelipe Loureiro has been successful in triathlon at all levels – from amateur to pro – accumulating over 26 years of experience in the sport and coaching. His athletic success came as he coached others and grew a business. He knows what it takes for you to succeed in any multisport discipline despite your busy schedule.

Training & Fitness, Uncategorized, Video

Standing Tall

egoscueWe all know that one of the keys to a faster performance, is a more efficient swim stroke, bike pedal or running stride.  But how does an athlete improve this efficiency and can improving ones posture translate to increased athletic performance?  In this article we are going to discuss the crucial role posture plays in athletic success, ways to improve posture and look at the effectiveness of orthotics.

Our bodies are made to move.  Each muscle has a specific job and if it does not receive the stimulus it needs to move, the muscles will eventually become dysfunctional and the result is pain in the form of a spasm, tightness or burning sensation.  The opposite is true as well.  If you overwork a muscle, the same unpleasant sensations occur.  Athletes have a special relationship with their bodies and know when the effects of putting in countless hours in the lap pool and miles on the road have caught up.  I interviewed posture specialist Brian Bradley from the Egoscue Method clinic in Del Mar, CA regarding the delicate relationship between posture and athletic performance.

MG: 1. What is your opinion on orthotics?

BB:”Let’s face it!  We live in a society where sitting for many hours per day at the office coupled that with sitting in city traffic, causes your body to believe that its best functioning position is sitting.  Then mix that with going into your swim-bike-run in an improper position.  The result is chronic pain and a definite loss of performance efficiency.  That little achilles twinge, low back tightness and/or chronic foot pain puts you on the sidelines for your upcoming season.  Not fun!”

“Orthotics, specially made inserts that are put inside shoes to change the way weight and impact are managed, can temporarily silence pain issues and eventually alter one’s overall biomechanics…and most likely not for the positive in the long term!  After the dysfunctional movement pattern is altered and the “friction” is moved, the problem begins all over again in a new location.  Only this time, the piriformis syndrome, the herniated lumbar disc, the medial knee degeneration, the TMJ…etc…begin to rear their ugly heads.  Here comes the pain!”

“The structures of the feet are not designed to handle any alternatives to correct posture.  Any pattern of foot strike that deviates form heel-ball-toe is a symptom of dysfunction.  In order to correct it, one must take time to reposition their load joints to allow a normal, efficient foot strike.”

MG: 2. How can someone improve their posture/function without using orthotics?

BB: “Not by thinking about it!  People have enough “stuff” on their plates on a daily basis and worrying about their posture isn’t going to make things less stressful.  In order to change one’s foot strike to the normal design, it is imperative to change the entire body’s kinetic chain.  Put simply, strengthening exercises focused on correcting posture must accompany any flexibility/range of motion program.  Simply stretching your quads, hamstrings, and calves is not going to be enough to ward off 8-12 hours of combined sitting, driving and working at computers we do in our modern society.  If someone can find the time to do five posture exercises, their running gait would dramatically improve over time.  That time will vary from person to person but the idea is to get it started ASAP!  Watch the videos below for some great tips on how to assess your own posture.”

MG: 3. How (if at all), in your opinion, can orthotics be used to help reduce/overcome athletic injuries?

BB: “I would never allow one of our athletes to use orthotics without going after the altered mechanics that led them to have to use them in the first place.  It would be like giving a blood transfusion to someone with a severed artery…it just doesn’t make sense.  Here is a rule to go by:  When the orthotics become uncomfortable after you have started postural therapy, its time to change them or get rid of them completely.  Remember, they are something external to your body and you need to do your part to regulate them.”

Next time you feel that hamstring twinge, calf tightness or shoulder pain, think twice before you take two ibuprofen and hope the pain subsides by morning so you can meet your group for an early morning ocean swim or 65 mile ride.  That subtle language your body is speaking to you does not want to be muffled.  Pain is your body’s way of saying something isn’t right and immediate actions need to be taken to stop the pain and, more importantly, correct the cause that started the pain in the first place.  Getting your body in the proper alignment is perhaps the most important step you can take in getting yourself back on the road or in the pool faster.  But in reality, a functional stride will keep you from getting re-injured and will actually help increase your range of motion, hence resulting in faster swim, bike and run times.  And that my Tri-friend is something we can all appreciate.  Happy training!

For more information on the Egoscue Method or for any questions regarding the informative video in this blog please contact:

Brian Bradley


Training & Fitness

SMALL details that can make a BIG difference

SMALL details that can make a BIG difference

“SMALL details that can make a BIG difference” 

By Felipe Loureiro

Over the years, as an athlete and a coach, something that always surprises me still to this day is how little attention is paid to little things that can really improve your performance and make your training a lot easier.

Here is my list:

    1. Tire Pressure: Typically a road bike “clincher” tire range is from 95psi to 105psi. You should pump your tires every time before a ride, so having a good floor pump at home or in your car is key. Riding with low tire pressure can affect your ride in more ways that you can imagine: it can cause you to crash since the handling and turn of your bike is not efficient, it will increase the chance of a flat tire, and will make you ride slower and harder.
    2. Running Shoe “Life”: Running in old or worn-out shoes is one of the most common causes of running injuries. How long can running shoes last? It varies from runner to runner, but usually between 300 to 400 miles. Don’t wait until your running shoes are beat and too old change. Sooner is always better than too late!
    3. Cycling Shorts “Quality”: If you have been riding for quite some time, you know how important it is to have good cycling shorts. It can be a game changer. Spend a little extra on this department and your ride will be a lot more enjoyable. Padding is the number one factor in good cycling shorts.
    4. Bike Cleats: Bike cleats are a very important piece of equipment but receive very little attention. Periodically you should check the bottom of your cycling shoes and check the cleats. You will know when is time for a new pair because they will be worn down. It is a very affordable and easy exchange but will make a big difference.
    5. Sunglasses: Sunglasses are another essential item in a triathlete’s life. The lens can be darker, lighter, polarized, prescription, or clear… always make sure you are wearing a good pair during a workout, your eyes will appreciate it!
    6. Running and Cycling socks: How many times have you finished a long run or a hard bike ride with a bad blister? At least once! Choosing the best kind of socks is going to make a big difference. Every athlete has a different preference (thicker, lighter, thinner, breathable, warmer) but once you find the one that works for you, make sure to stick with it!

If you take these small details into consideration with your training, you may find big improvements and success with the results!

Felipe-loureiroFelipe Loureiro is a Triathlon Coach. He grew up in Brasil and has lived in San Diego for 12 years. Check his website at

Training & Fitness

High Intensity Training

What if you could achieve the benefits of a 3 hour bike ride with just 30 minutes of training? What if you received the same endurance adaptations of an 18 mile run during a simple 20 minute session? No, I’m not talking about blood doping or ‘roids. I’m referring to HIT.

HIT stands for “High Intensity Interval Training”. If you’ve done it, you know it, because you never quite forget a HIT session. If you haven’t yet been introduced to this highly time efficient and fitness effective form of training, then by all means, keep reading.

Let’s examine what happens in the body in response to traditional endurance training.

1. Improved muscle oxidative capacity. This means that the mitochondria enzymes, the machinery of the tiny powerhouses in your muscle cells, become faster and more efficient at converting oxygen into energy.

2. Altered substrate utilization. The body changes its primary exercise fuel, or substrate, to contain a lower percentage of carbohydrate and a higher percentage of fat. This is also known as “enhanced lipid oxidation”.

3.Increased glycogen storage. Your carbohydrate stores amplify, up to 20% over normal, un-trained values.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we could achieve these same aerobic adaptations via shorter bouts of more intense training? This question has been posed several times by researchers, who have conducted various studies that inspected the effect of HIT compared to traditional endurance training.

HIT is somewhat broadly defined and basically would include any repeated efforts of brief, intermittent exercise performed at a high work intensity. These efforts can last from a few seconds up to several minutes, and are separated by a longer period of rest or low-intensity exercise. Intensityranges from 175% VO2 max intensity (typical for shorter 10-30 second bouts) to 85% VO2 max intensity (typical for longer 3-4 minute bouts).

Let’s take a look at some of the important and interesting pearls from HIT studies:

-A series of 48 ten second high-intensity sprints with 40 seconds recovery after each (8 minutes of total work), achieved similar mitochondrial enzyme improvements as four 12.5 minutes efforts at a moderate intensity (50 minutes of total work).

-Over the course of three 30 second all-out sprints with 4 minutes of recovery, individuals were observed to progress towards increased fat utilization with each sprint.

-Over two weeks, performed three times per week, a workout that simply involved four 30 second “all-out” sprints with four minutes of recovery after each (2 total minutes of work) nearly doubled cycling time to exhaustion at approximately time trial pace (from ~30 minutes up to ~60 minutes).

-Fat oxidation in women was significantly improved by performing an exercise sessions that involved ten 4 minute efforts with 2 minute recoveries (a bit higher volume in this study!).

-Five 30 second high-intensity efforts with 4 minute recoveries, performed 3x/week (10 minutes total training time), resulted in similar aerobic adaptations as a single 40-60 minute low to moderate-intensity session performed 5x/week (4.5 hours total training time).

-Finally, one interesting study looked at what type of HIT training was most effective in well-trained cyclists, and concluded that twelve 30 second efforts with 4.5 minutes rest or eight 4 minute efforts with 1.5 minutes rest produced the highest potency for inducing aerobic training adaptations.

I personally liked the idea of four 30 second “all-out” sprints with four minutes of recovery after each, so I performed this workout on the indoor trainer over the weekend, in lieu of a 2 hour bike session.  I grabbed my iPod and sweat towel, sucked down a cup of coffee, and prepared for a short, sweet, slightly painful exercise session.

My goal was 450-500 watts for each 30 second sprint. In no time flat, I experienced a revelation. With just 18 minutes of training, I was cooked, wasted, destroyed and any other violent adjective we avid exercisers might use to refer to the fact that we just completed a fantastic and highly effective workout.

As I draped myself over the handlebars and gasped for breath, I realized that I had the same feeling I might have after a three hour brick session, or a 75 minute open water swim, or a cage fight with lions.Image

Training & Fitness

Winter Training

Don’t fight it!  Winter is nature’s way of making us take a break from routine riding, and that’s good. Get back in the pool, join an adult soccer league, signup for yoga, get in the rock climbing gym etc. I’m never surprised that the guys or gals that JUST ride and couldn’t do a chin-up to save their lives, are the ones that get complicated compound fractures and disclocations when they crash.

Anything can get boring without some variety.  So your overall approach in the off-season is to reduce saddle time and give those pelvic floor muscles a rest.
The principles of training:
Specificity: Your training program needs to be tailored to you. The majority of training books give you a stock program to follow. It will be down to you to tune this to yourself. When doing so you need to be realistic, asking yourself the following: What is my current level? What training can my body realistically cope with? What time do I have to train? What are my goals for the following year? When are those goals? Once you know the answer to these questions you will have the information to make a realistic training program. If you work 40 hour weeks you cannot get 25 hours in on the bike. If you are new to cycling and not very fit, then you cannot physically cope with the demands of a six hour ride at 20 miles per hour. By tailoring your training to you, you will have a program which you can fulfil and by doing so will be more motivated to follow.
Overload: Like the body builder doing very few reps with an enormous weight, the principle of overloading your body to make it improve is relevant to winter training also. By placing a higher demand on your body than it is used to (but one which is realistic to achieve) your body is given a stimulus to react to. By riding longer than you normally do, or at a higher rate, you stress the systems of your body. We are programmed to adapt to these changes and thus get fitter. Though note, it is only during resting that the body can improve. Training is a two part process, stimulus and recovery, one without the other will not achieve an improvement in your fitness.
Progression: As we noted above, our bodies adapt to the new demands placed upon it. This means that as you train and get fitter you need to progress your training. Increase the work load which you put your body under. If you only ever do the same about of training then you will plateau. So as you get fitter you need to increase your training, in either length or intensity, to continue to improve.
Reversibility:  This is the least favourite of all the training principles. Going hand in hand with the body’s ability to adapt to new demands put upon it, when those demands are not present then it reverts back to a normal state. In layman’s terms you lose fitness when you do not train, very quickly. With this in mind it makes sense to be consistent in your training, little and often. This will limit the losses during down periods, or when you are limited for time to train.
Gear, Training & Fitness

Crank Length


Pictured above are 220mm long custom Leonard Zinn mtn bike cranks! We know Ryon (6’6″) has considered these at one point.

It is true that many top athletes are switching to shorter cranks for timed racing such as triathlon and TT. This is relatively new, because traditionally longer cranks were thought to be better since they give more leverage. However, crank length is just one lever in a drive train composed of a system of levers that transmit your foot’s force on the pedal to your tire’s thrust on the ground. The other levers in this system are the chain ring radius, cog radius and wheel radius. We vary two of these (chain ring and cog) at will whenever we shift gears. So we don’t need a small difference in crank length to change the leverage available to us.

What does Dr. Martin say?
 For many athletes, the idea “longer is better” has changed in part because of Dr. Jim Martin’s 2001 study titled “Determinants of maximal cycling power: crank length, pedaling rate and pedal speed” (Eur J Appl Physiol (2001) 84: 413-418). Jim’s study involved 16 bike racers of various heights doing maximal sprint power tests, typically less than four seconds duration. During the study, they repeated the efforts while systematically testing the following crank lengths: 120, 145, 170, 195, and 220mm. Believe it or not, the test results showed no statistical difference in maximum power among the three middle crank lengths (145, 170 and 195mm). The saddle height (measured to the pedal) was maintained throughout and the researchers did not adjust fore-aft saddle position or handlebar height despite changes in pedal-to-knee relationship and handlebar drop with the various crank lengths. For years crank length tests had been inconclusive and the general working knowledge came more from experience and intuition than science. Now athletes can choose the crank length they like without worrying they’re affecting power.
What does the wind tunnel say?
With the leverage-dependency myth debunked to a certain degree, it was the application of these lessons which really drove the value of this study. The figure above graphically shows how the aerodynamic drag area (CdA) changed when four pro athletes tested multiple crank lengths in the wind tunnel. (Keep in mind lower CdA is better.) Rider1’s CdA increased (from 0.271 to 0.277 m2) when he changed from longer to shorter cranks (from 180 to 175mm), but the other three riders’ CdA stayed the same or decreased slightly when changing from longer to shorter cranks. The crank length and CdA data for each athlete is listed in the table below.

Wind Tunnel Run


Crank, mm

CdA, m2

LSWT 0908 Run 756




LSWT 0908 Run 757




LSWT 0908 Run 806




LSWT 0908 Run 807




LSWT 0908 Run 805




LSWT 0908 Run 701




LSWT 0908 Run 702




LSWT 0908 Run 707




LSWT 0908 Run 708




Table 1 Crank and CdA data used to generate the Figure above. Only CdA pairs with adjacent run numbers are comparable; other position changes were made in between non-adjacent run numbers which make them non-comparable.
As you can see from wind tunnel test data, changing crank length by itself doesn’t always have a predictable effect on aero drag (CdA). But for each of these pros, the change to a shorter crank solved a range of motion issue at the hip that allowed them to comfortably make other changes to reduce their aero drag without decreasing power.
What is the application?
With maximum power essentially unaffected by a wide range of reasonable crank lengths, athletes are now free to choose crank length based on other criteria. Convenience (your might already have a serviceable crank on your bike), comfort, pedal clearance (to the ground), toe overlap; all of these are affected by crank length. However, what is now understood is that, especially in an aero riding position, shorter cranks can sometimes alleviate a common fit problem: if the hip angle is too tight at the top of the pedal stroke, the athlete can be uncomfortable, or is unable to produce maximum power at the top of the pedal stroke.
Even in athletes with no existing fit problem, some choose shorter cranks in order to further lower the torso by lowering the arm pads. Perhaps this is not a surprise, but the hours of wind tunnel testing we’ve done with various Cervélo-sponsored pro athletes over the years confirms that for nearly all athletes, a lower bar means lower aero drag.
Keep in mind that hip angle isn’t the only limiter on lowering the torso. Saddle discomfort, digestion and vision are other common limiters. If an athlete is limited in these ways then shorter cranks won’t help get them any lower.
Some athletes keep their long cranks and still perform well. Some try short cranks, aren’t happy with the results and switch back again. Others keep the short cranks and tell us the following:
They pedal faster. The effort and foot speed is about the same, but the RPM is higher, typically about the same percentage higher as the change in crank length. For example, the difference between 165 and 175 is about 5%; some athletes find themselves in a gear about 5% easier than before, with a matching cadence about 5% higher. Coincidentally, the difference between a “compact” 50 tooth chain ring and a 53 is close to 5%. Likewise 20 and 21 teeth are about 5% different.
They adapted immediately. The leg muscles operate over a slightly shorter range of motion with shorter cranks, so no “new” muscle training is needed. Also the faster cadence doesn’t need to be learned or trained, because the foot speed (and thus the muscle fiber shortening velocity) is the same as before.
They feel more similar between aero and road bike positions. The typical idea is to rotate your road position into your aero position, but usually the torso rotates farther than the rest of the body. This closes the hip joint, and shorter cranks on the aero bike can maintain a hip angle more similar to that of their road position.
They can run better. Triathletes say the initial part of the run feels better coming from shorter cranks.
What does the Race Engineer say?
Team Garmin-Cervélo’s Race Engineer,  advises athletes to choose whatever crank length they like. Those who are interested may try shorter cranks on the TT bike; in that case I usually recommend a 5mm difference: longer on the road bike than the TT bike. In all cases, regular training on the TT bike is important to promote adaptation to all aspects of the aero position. The main thing is to realize that the choice of crank length doesn’t significantly affect power, so any length is now free to choose for any other reason. This lets the athletes relax about crank length, knowing it’s not as critical as we used to think.
Gear, Training & Fitness

What’s different: Skratch Labs?


Different things work for different people, when prompted I tell them that I’m a fan of real food and not big on gel or bars, but then again I’m not racing Ironman distance races so I’m not motivated to deperately grab calories anyway I can. This isn’t to imply that the long distance triathlete is relegated to junk and can’t eat better.  As a neuroscience and physio graduate I used to talk to them about how our body absorbs the protein in food sources easier than in supplement form.  The small intestine absorbs amino acids and has peptidase enzymes on it’s surface that splits most dipeptides and tripeptides into single amino acids.
A few of these dipeptides and tripeptides escape digestion and cross the digestive tract wall and enter bloodstream. These athletes would get conflicting information from nutritional faddists whom fail to realize that most proteins are broken down to amino acids before absorption. They urge people to eat enzyme supplements, unfortunately these enzymes in foods are digested in the same manner proteins are. Digestive enzymes are the only things by design that prevents them from being denatured or digested.
Some products are marketed based on their amino acid content others on their high carb or protein content and although you will need protein at some point in your long ride I’m not convinced you should be getitng it all from your bottle. Drink Skratch and eat real food (tons of great recipes on Skratch’s blog and in Allen Lim’s book )
So why do I like Skratch?
  • High Quality All-Natural Ingredients
  • No artificial anything
  • Optimal Sodium for exercise
  • Actual fruit used for flavor
  • Less sugar,  more electrolytes
  • Environmentally conscious packaging (which they say will be improved again soon)
  • It has only a trace of sugar, so it doesn’t set off wild insulin spikes causing “sugar high” and “sugar crash” and is easily digested
Essentially less is more. I could ramble on about how a product is “laterally stiff but vertically compliant” but I feel all you have to do is try it and you’ll see why it’s my favorite nutritional drink.
Reach out to me at kevin|at| and I’ll get you a sample.