Race week!

Quite a few of our athletes are racing this coming weekend. We have two Sprint and Olympic Distance Triathlons in Malaysia this weekend. Both the International Triathlon in Port Dickson, and the Penang Triathlon on the beautiful island of Penang.

We have clients racing both Sprint and Olympic distances and clients doing relays as part of a team so clients will be “all over the place”. It’s great!

Let’s start with race week and preparations. This will be different from individual to individual. Some will see this race as one of the top races of the season, and some will look upon it more as a training session, having other races later in the season in mind. Regardless of which category you belong to, take this opportunity to prepare properly. And the time for that is now.

  • Check your gear, lay it out on the floor and go through everything. Pre-race, Swim, Bike, Run, and Post-race.
  • What will you wear on race day? swim goggles, swim suit, bike shoes, helmet, socks, running shoes, hat, sun-glasses, race-belt.
  • What’s your nutrition plan? Gels, Isotonic… What do they serve at the aid stations?
  • Any other gear needed? Water bottle, sun screen, anti-shafe, rubber bands, watch?
  • After race recovery and clothes
  • Race map/route, what’s the elevation, and technical parts of the bike, how’s the water, is it exposed, shaded, windy, hot?
  • Check your bike! Tyres, bolts, chain, gears. Clean and check so that all the gear is in prime condition. Practise to change if you puncture. Are your batteries and such charged?

Penang Triathlon is at a fresh water dam. Sight is not great, but the water is calm and flat. After the swim there is a steep climb up to the transition area. This is a spot in the race where you’ll need to pace yourself and not go into the red zone. The bike course is an out and bike course with some hills, but here is a time in the race where you can push it a bit harder. Run is 10 km down to a coastal town and back up again. Some elevation on the run but once you reach the turn around point there is nothing to spare, push hard all the way home!

Port Dickson starts with an ocean swim, last years sprint (Saturday) had some challenging waves coming in, but the Olympic (Sunday) was much calmer. You swim out, take a left, swim into a marina, U-turn and follow the coastline back to the beach. Transition is 200 m of flat running. The bike course is mainly flat with few technicalities, it’s a draft legal race so it’s a fast race on the bike. The run is also a very flat course, with just a couple of small bumps, but part of the run course is on the beach so it gets sandy. Sprint course is more or less the same as the Olympic course but of course everything is shorter, the bike turn-around is earlier, etc…

We wish all our clients to have a good and safe race regardless of distance and which race(s) you are participating in!

Asia Physio

We are also extremely happy to present a new collaboration with Asia Physio through the well educated British Physiotherapist Glenn Fayers, who is now based in KL at the newly opened and awesome bike store 2escape in PJ. Through this collaboration we are now able to offer a 10% discount at any therapy session at Asia Physio. Glenn has been working in Tokyo and Singapore and you can read more about Asia Physio and Glenn on their homepage. See links to both Asia Physio and 2escape:


We had a few clients running the Bukit Jalil Half Marathon this last Sunday. The Bukit Jalil 21.1 is a tough, hilly course and despite the early start it’s hot and humid. The race also offers a 10 km and a 5 km run. We had runners in 21.1km and 10km and they all did well.

One of our runners is Eunice Ong set a big PB last Sunday – 1:41, she has been a client for about three months and she has a few run goals set up for the year. She’s dedicated and easily coached. Her previous 21.1 km PB was 1:48, set at the Great Eastern 21.1 Bubble Run. Now the Great Eastern isn’t an easy run, it’s still in the tropics, and being in KL – it’s not flat. But look at the picture below to see the race profile of the Bukit Jalil. It’s hilly and tough! Well done Eunice.Bukit Jalil

I took the opportunity and asked Eunice a few questions about the race and the lead up:

Any keys to the success in the training leading up to the race?  -“TJCoaching and Mark’s training and the long runs helped i think.”

  • We at TJ Coaching believe that following a structured training plan has a huge impact on health and performance. We are also firm believers in scheduling the training so that the benefit from the training is maximum. To do that it is important to know the purpose of each work-out. When training you’ll want to be as fresh as possible before the high intense, hard work-outs to gain as much as possible from them. This can only be accomplished by not overdoing the easy work-outs. There are no medals in training, going easy on the easy workouts is a huge key to be able to keep a high workload on the hard work-outs.

This was quite a hilly course, how could you maintain pace, posture and power throughout the race? -“Try to maintain pace and power by using the watch monitoring HR and pace, resisted to go too fast or let my ego get the best of me when someone overtakes me, I also let my body guide me with the energy, the posture was just me constantly reminding myself to look ahead.”

  • This is great race pacing. Listening to your body, and to some extent using technical equipment, and leaving the Ego behind. I’m sure many of the runners overtaking Eunice in the beginning of the race payed the price in the last half of the race and many of them was probably overtaken by Eunice…

I also asked Eunice about nutrition (knowing that a lot of people have stressful experiences from this). My question to Eunice was about what her dietary intake looked like the day before, in the morning and during the race? -“I ate mainly carbs the day before, morning i just 2 coffees and a gel, during the race only the water at the water stations.”

  • In some ways this differs a bit from my own nutrition plan, but in many ways it doesn’t. If we break it down, you’ll soon see what I mean:
    • She is careful leading up to the race with not overloading on foods that are hard to digest (that can cause bloating and other gastric issues) – I do the same, but personally prefer less carbs.
    • In the morning she’s very low on energy intake, and before race she loads up with just a few fast carbs (the bioenergetic systems (ATP) in the body can only be topped up with so much) – This is identical to mine, had the race been longer, I had taken an omelette or similar 3 hours prior to race start.
    • During the race, being a short endurance effort she is content with only water – not taking on unnecessary calories that the body needs to digest/process. – Great decision – the effort, being sub 2 hours, doesn’t require much added energy. I might maybe had taken a gel after 12-15 km, but besides of that it’s identical to my own ideas. I think that Eunice’s plan is really good!
    • This is indeed a very good nutrition plan, and what makes it so good is that it is personalized and it works for Eunice!

Lastly, Congrats to all our clients completing the Bukit Jalil!!


Race week approaching!

Powerman Malaysia is coming up in just a week. Race week is here!

However, before we go further into that I’d like to congratulate one of our clients – Agnes – on her astonishing performance in today’s Tokyo Marathon. Massive running Agnes!

Next weekend a lot of our clients will head out to Putrajaya to race at the Malaysian Powerman, that has a whopping 2600 participants. Powerman is a duathlon, run – bike – run, that is available in two distances: 5 – 30 – 5 km, and 10 – 60 – 10 km. We also have clients racing the WMW Marathon and one client racing in Shah Alam next weekend as well!! So a big weekend for TJ Coaching.

Out of the TJ Coaching clients participating, a few are doing their first duathlon/triathlon, and some clients are coming back looking to improve. We also have clients that have many triathlon Ironman races under their belt, doing this race. Whether the seasoned veteran or the newcomer, race week is always special.

I thought I’d write a few advices regarding race week and race preparation:

1. Don’t listen to advices!

First of all an important thing to say about advices on tapering, race nutrition, preparation – everyone’s different and have different approaches. What seems to work really well for one, could be devastating for another. This being especially true when it comes to race day nutrition. Your buddies best brand of gels may not work very well with your belly/body. So find your own way, but sometimes (especially if you’re new into the sport) it’s nice to benchmark someone else.

2. Don’t overtrain during race week.

Secondly there is this quotation that TJ Coaching often refers to: “No medals are won in training”, this is very true at any time of the year, but extra important in race week. Medals are handed out only on Sunday, not Monday-Saturday this week, so don’t go for the Strava segment’s during the lead up to the race this week, turn down that challenge from your buddy to race to the top,… Make your easy work-outs really easy, and conserve your energy until race-day. However don’t just sit around on your butt doing nothing. Activate yourself! In all runs and rides during race week include a few short intense efforts, but don’t make it too intense and not too long! 3x50m efforts during a short slow run, or 3x1min of cadence work, or 5x30sec spin-ups on the bike, or similar.

3. Check your gear.

If you haven’t done so already now is high time to check your race gear. Is everything in order? What are you going to wear? Have you tried it out? Is your bike in prime condition? All bolts tightened? Tires in good condition? Chain running smoothly? Gears? Batteries? Practise to repair a flat tire! Running gear, and sunnies, and…

Make a checklist, lay out all clothes and gear on the floor, walk through the race, Start – run – T1 – bike – T2 – run. What do you need, have you got it, have you tried it in training? With one week to go, there’s still time to make adjustments, but don’t wait until Saturday/Sunday.

4. Don’t overeat and don’t carbo load!

It’s race week. You’re probably tapering, doing less training than usually, so the body won’t need as much energy as the usual weeks of higher training load. Don’t put on a few kg’s this week by using the carbo-loading excuse or just plain over-eating. With that said – don’t eat to little either.

And Carbo loading, to a great extent in my experience the whole carboloading thing is a hoax. It doesn’t work. The amount of carbs that we can quickly access and use in a race-situation is minimal. So the extra loading that we need to do is also minimal. The rest of the energy used has to be produced from turning body fat or muscle mass into energy that the muscles can use, or by adding energy that can be taken up fast during the race. Eat just a little bit more carbs than usual on Saturday. That’s enough. And don’t shove in heaps of pasta on Saturday evening. That will more likely clog the system…

5. Nutrition plan

By now you hopefully have an idea of what nutrition you’ll bring on race day, when to eat it and how your body reacts to it. If not, I’d recommend to try a sport drink, gel or similar early in the week on a few work-outs and just pencil down a plan for when to take it during the race.

My nutrition plan will be something like this: Light breakfast at 4 am, probably a plain/cheese omelette and some water. Then drink moderate amounts of water until the race starts, nothing else. Just before the gun goes off I’ll take one Hammer Nutrition Gel. I’ll continue with Hammer gels and water throughout the race, so that I keep my energy intake at approximately 180cal/hr.

6. Have fun, enjoy.

Maybe most important. Remember to have fun! Enjoy the day, cheer on your competitors, be a sport! Say Thank you! to the volunteers. Before the gun goes, be on your toes, look around you, enjoy the atmosphere. At certain points during the race, be thankful: I’ll be thankful for completing one lap of the run, for reaching T1, for one lap one the bike, for reaching T2, for one lap on the second run and finally for reaching the finish line. Being thankful always works wonders for me, bringing new energy to a tired body and mind.

And finally smile when you cross the finish line. Remember to practise your finishing pose, and don’t cross the finish line with one hand on your Garmin, you can wait 10 meters with turning the Garmin off 🙂


Good luck to clients and non clients alike racing in Putrajaya coming Sunday and also good luck to the ones racing the WMW – Marathon and in Shah Alam next week!!!