Candidate 1:

Name: Talal Almoallem

Age: 33

Nationality: Syrian

Background and info: Coming from a swim background, Talal entered the world of Triathlon in 2013, initially with some swimming, and then slowly adding in some cycling and running. Has completed 2 Sprint Distance Triathlons to date, and will be competing in the Yas Marina Olympic Distance race in April 2014, before going on to compete in a Half-Ironman race in late 2014. By his own admission, Talals training is somewhat unstructured, and his diet is a bit sketchy – that’s all about to change!!


The start:
Week 1:

Talal’s first session was to check his general movement patterns and mobility, which are good, and some coaching on the fundamental movements (squat, deadlift and press) that we will use for his strength work.

We also completed his body composition analysis HERE which tells us the exact make up of Talal’s body. This is something that will be done on a weekly basis to monitor changes and effects of the program.

Talal will keep a log of his food intake for a week before we consider what needs to be changed, and will track his sleep patterns and waking pulse. We also and agreed a training structure that fits in with his lifestyle and family commitments, this is something that is very important in that we are aligned from the start.

Aeroscans have been completed, for both Bike and Run which are essential for us to know precisely what level of intensity Talal should be doing both his long easy sessions, and his short hard intervals. For more information on Aeroscans, read my article HERE

Bike [wpdm_file id=125]

Run [wpdm_file id=124]

 

WEEK 2:

Having reviewed Talal’s food log from week 1 I decided to make some pretty radical changes to his diet – there were a number of things that I felt needed to be eliminated, so it was a question of whether to make sweeping changes on day 1 or slowly implement changes over the course of a few weeks – Talal was up for the challenge so we went for the first option! The results have been nothing short of spectacular! – in the space of 9 days on his new nutrition protocol, Talal has lost a MASSIVE 4.5kgs of Fat, and has even gained some lean mass, which is amazing. You can see the results of his 2nd body composition analysis HERE. Needless to say we were both absolutely delighted with the outcome.

 

WEEK 3:

Week 3 was a week of consolidation after the excitement of last weeks updated body composition analysis! – Talal has settled really quickly into his new training and nutrition plans – we are already seeing signs of improvement in both his biking and running, which is awesome. We are now looking towards the Olympic Distance Tri YAS on 28th February – there will be no taper or adjustment to training routine, and we will be treating it more as a long threshold training session than a race, I am excited to see how Talal goes – his PR at Sprint Distance is 1.19, so for double the distance, anything under 2.40 will be considered a huge success.

 

Week 4 – TriYAS review:

Talal swim exit
Talal IF kit

The build up to race day was pretty normal, as I said last week, we were treating this more as a training session than a race, but I was still keen to see how Talal performed under pressure.

Simple answer – he bossed it! – I was looking for anything sub 2.40 – it was a really well executed race – exited the swim 5th out of his wave in 24 minutes, consolidated his position on the bike with a solid 1.09 to cover 8 laps of the circuit, and then served up a commanding 53 minute 10k run to finish in an overall time of 2.32 – an exceptional result, and all the time with a smile (I must talk to him about going harder next time!)

Now that we have a good baseline for performance, we can really start to zone in on his upcoming races for the end of March.

You can see the results of his 3rd body composition analysis HERE.

Happy coach Flanners.

 

Week 5:

Following on from the success and euphoria after TriYAS, Talal was straight back into the thick of the action, no
time for complacency! – sometimes it’s hard to get back into training after
a big race, so I figured the best way to avoid that problem was to program a
really tough week. We are now looking hard at the upcoming Olympic Distance
races at Mamzar Park and The Atlantis Tri Festival.

Talal finish

I will, however be tracking all of this weeks data VERY carefully and
looking for any signs of excess fatigue.

Another body composition analysis is due next week, and I am looking forward
to seeing what progress has been made.

 

Week 6:

Another great week for Talal – he continues to follow his program carefully, both from a training and nutrition perspective.

We did another body composition analysis, and body fat and overall weight continue to drop – you can see the results HERE

Talal is also running faster at lower heart rates on his aerobic runs, and set a new PR for a lap of the autodrome after 40k of hard biking in his midweek brick session.

You can hear what Talal has to say about it in the video below:

 

Week 7:

I picked up on a few signs of excess fatigue from Talal at the end of week 6, so I was kind enough to back off the intensity of his training (de-loading week) to make sure all the metrics we are tracking (sleep, recovery between intervals, waking pulse etc) were back in order.

Just to be clear on this, it’s not a rest week! – more a question of reducing or removing the high intensity work and allowing Talal’s body to recover.

I have promised a tough week next week assuming everything gets back to normal this week :)

You can hear what Talal has to say about it in the video below:

 

Week 8:

As promised, a tough week for Talal, as we make final preparations for the Atlantis Tri Festival.

Talal is clearly getting stronger and a lot more core stability in the gym, and I am looking forward to seeing the impact this has on his race results next week.

Highlight of the week was the re-test of the 800m running intervals that we did in week 1, where Talal managed to improve his average time by around 16 seconds compared to his original efforts

You can hear what Talal has to say about it in the video below:

 

Week 9 – Atlantis Tri Review:

A ‘fairly’ easy week for Talal leading up to the Olympic Distance Race at the weekend – we expected Talal to finish the swim high up in the field, the bike course would not be as fast as Tri YAS with some very tight turns and a lot of the course being on cobblestones, but the key focus for this race was how his run would compre to previous efforts over the same distance.

Results – the swim and bike sections went very much as expected – the run however, was a blistering 6 minutes faster than the run only a few weeks ago at Tri YAS, to finish 34th overall – proof that hard work and consistency does indeed pay off.

You can see pictures of Talal on the bike HERE and at the finish line HERE

You can also hear what Talal has to say about it in the video below:

Happy Coach, and happy athlete!!

 

Week 10:

Yet another solid week of training for Talal – he has totally embraced the concept of consistent hard work, and taking his rest and recovery seriously.

We did another body composition analysis, and body fat continues to drop – you can see the results HERE

Despite the increasing heat, Talal is still running faster at lower heart rates on his aerobic runs, which is great to see.

You can hear what Talal has to say about it in the video below:

 

Week 11:

The penultimate week of the project – we re-ran Talals original run benchmark session, which was 6 x 800m with 2 minutes rest in between – Talal showed massive improvement both in terms of his average running pace (28 seconds per km faster!), and also his consistency across the 6 efforts.

We are now looking forward to next week, where we will re-run his original swim benchmark session, and he will undergo follow-up Aeroscans so that we have quantitative data to measure his performance improvement.

You can hear what Talal has to say about it in the video below:

 

BRAVE PROJECT ROUND-UP

After 3 months working with Talal on ‘The Brave Project’ the day of reckoning is finally here – whilst we have all seen Talal get leaner, stronger and swim/bike/run faster over the course of the project, there were a few measures that I was specifically interested to see (primarily, could we increase his ability to burn fat at moderate/threshold intensity) , and we have had to wait for the follow up Aeroscan reports to get confirmation of what we were seeing on a day to day basis. It should be said that Talal has been incredibly disciplined throughout the entire project, and he takes the lions share of the credit for the results that have been achieved.

To go back to the very beginning, we made it clear that the idea of the project was less about ‘overnight performance enhancement’ (3 months is considered overnight for a triathlete) but to establish a set of fundamentals in terms of nutrition, training protocols, and tracking certain metrics to enable us to spot any early signs of excess fatigue / illness, essentially to enable Talal to enjoy a healthy long-term relationship with the sport of triathlon.

So what have we changed, or been tracking and measuring? – and more importantly, what are the results??

Nutrition – we placed Talal on a Low Carb High Fat (LCHF) diet pretty much from day 1 – as Talal would tell you, the first week was a bit crappy, but he very quickly adapted to the new regime – other than a couple of ‘mini carb loads’ for his races, he has managed to exist without pasta, rice, potatoes, bread etc, which would previously have been his staple diet. He also did a lot of low intensity fasted work to go alongside his nutrition changes which we hoped would further boost his fat burning capacity.

Body Composition – following on from nutrition, we wanted to help Talal lose some body fat, without losing muscle mass – you can see his body composition from 29th January HERE , and the one from 1st May HERE – the results speak pretty much for themselves! – in a nutshell, he has lost an incredible 7.2 kgs of body fat whilst actually gaining 1.7kgs of muscle mass.

Sleep hours and Waking pulse – these were two of the measures that we tracked daily – it quickly became clear that Talals waking pulse was negatively affected by a couple of nights of poor sleep, usually coupled with some hard training or stress at work – on the very odd occasion we saw this, we were able to scale back on the training for a day or two, make sure a good nights sleep was had and the balance was restored – this week Talals waking pulse has been 48, compared with 61 at the start of the project.

Strength – we wanted to make sure that Talal not only got stronger, but that he was able to translate that strength into performance improvement in swim/bike/run, we didn’t do anything special on this, he simply came to our Endurance S & C classes twice a week, where we focussed primarily on the major compound lifts (squats, deadlifts, presses) with some bodyweight exercise for stability (planks, hollow holds, lunges etc) – whilst the numbers here are not super important I can tell you that Talal has double his back squat (90kgs) and added 40kgs to his deadlifts (140 kgs)

Okay, okay, this is all very good I hear yu say, but what about his results where it really matters, swim, bike and run??

We set benchmark sessions in his first week which we planned to re-test in the final week to enable us to see real world results, which are below:

Swim – Talal was already a good swimmer, having come from a swim background but having seen his stroke, I thought he was perhaps being a bit complacent with where he was at, so really wanted to push him on this to get him closer to the front pack….

12 x 100m with 1 minute rest between each 100m – average performance improvement of 12 seconds per 100 metres !!

Run – perhaps Talal’s weakest discipline, so a lot of effort has gone in to improving this.

6 x 800m with 2 minutes rest in between each- average performance improvement of 27 seconds per km pace over these intervals!!

Aeroscan Results – these were the results that I was really excited to see (read more about Aeroscan in my article HERE) – clinically tested in lab conditions, these were really the acid test of success or failure.

You can see Talal’s Bike Scan from Feb HERE and Run Scan HERE – his follow up Bike Scan on 29th April HERE and Run Scan HERE, and the side by side comparison for Bike HERE and Run HERE

A brief overview of the key results below: (all numbers in calories burnt per hour)

Date Fat Burn @ 10kph (Run) Carb Burn @ 10 kph Fat burn @ 175watts (bike) Carb Burn @ 175w
5th Feb (pre project) 0 921 0 769
29th April (post project) 285 601 227 490

To summarize this, Talal’s ability to burn Fat at moderate to high intensity has gone through the roof! – in real terms, this means he can push harder for longer, and still only burn the same amount of calories from carbs – having crunched the numbers I believe this translates to an improvement of (conservatively) a whopping 45 minutes over a Half IM distance race!

OVERALL SUMMARY

Over the last 3 months, Talal has:

· Become leaner (Lost 7.2 kgs of body fat)
· Become stronger
· Reduced his waking pulse by 12 BPM
· Dramatically increased his capacity to burn fat at moderate to high intensity which is ideal for longer distance racing
· Become SIGNIFICANTLY faster at Swim, Bike and Run

If you feel like you may be in need of any or all of the above, please get in touch via the website of contact me directly right here

And finally, congratulations Talal, you are a total rock star! – and for those of you out there who are in his age group, look out, he’s coming for you!

By Neil Flanagan, InnerFight Endurance coach.

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