Olympic Preparation of a World-Class Female Triathlete

By Iñigo Mujika on June 24th 2014
Triathletes Ainhoa Murua and Jon “Stoneman” Unanue, London 2012 (Photo: Iñigo Mujika)

Triathletes Ainhoa Murua and Jon “Stoneman” Unanue, London 2012 (Photo: Iñigo Mujika)

Mujika, I.

International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, Volume 9, Issue 4, 2014, 9, 727 – 731


Detailed accounts of the training programs followed by today’s elite triathletes are lacking in the sport-science literature. This study reports on the training program of a world-class female triathlete preparing to compete in the London 2012 Olympic Games. Over 50 wk, she performed 796 sessions (303 swim, 194 bike, 254 run, 45 strength training), ie, 16 ± 4 sessions/wk (mean ± SD). Swim, bike, and run training volumes were, respectively, 1230 km (25 ± 8 km/wk), 427 h (9 ± 3 h/wk), and 250 h (5 ± 2 h/wk). Training tasks were categorized and prescribed based on heart-rate values and/or speeds and power outputs associated with different blood lactate concentrations. Training performed at intensities below her individual lactate threshold (ILT), between the ILT and the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA), and above the OBLA for swim were 74% ± 6%, 16% ± 2%, 10% ± 2%; bike 88% ± 3%, 10% ± 1%, 2.1% ± 0.2%; and run 85% ± 2%, 8.0% ± 0.3%, 6.7% ± 0.3%. Training organization was adapted to the busy competition calendar (18 events, of which 8 were Olympic-distance triathlons) and continuously responded to emerging information. Training volumes were 35–80% higher than those previously reported for elite male and female triathletes, but training intensity and tapering strategies successfully followed recommended best practice for endurance athletes. This triathlete placed 7th in London 2012, and her world ranking improved from 14th to 8th at the end of 2012.

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Nutrition in aquatic sports

By Iñigo Mujika on June 10th 2014
Start in a swimming event in London 2012 (Photo: Inigo Mujika)

Start in a swimming event in London 2012 (Photo: Inigo Mujika)

Under the auspices of FINA, a group of experts-researchers-practitioners in the areas of sports nutrition and aquatic sports has been working together for almost a year now to come up with sound recommendations for optimal nutrition strategies, general and sport specific.

As a result of this work, a series of articles will be published in a special issue of the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, in a couple of months, and the good news is that the special issue will be fully open access on the journal’s website, meaning the electronic content will be freely available.

Until then, here are the abstracts of the two of the three articles I co-authored. The third one, on nutritional recommendations for water polo, will be coming up very soon.

Read and comment Nutrition in aquatic sports

Improving the value of fitness testing for football

By Iñigo Mujika on May 21st 2014
Performance testing material (Photo: Inigo Mujika)

Performance testing material (Photo: Inigo Mujika)

David B. Pyne, Matt Spencer, Iñigo Mujika.

International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. Volume 9, Issue 3, May 2014, 511 – 514.


One of the challenges for sports scientists working in football is to balance the needs for routine fitness testing with daily fatigue and well-being monitoring to best manage the physical preparation of players. In this commentary, the authors examine contemporary issues of fitness testing in football to identify ways of improving the value of routine testing and monitoring. A testing program must be well planned and organized to ensure that the results are useful. Different tests can be employed for younger and older players. A rigorous approach to analysis and interpretation of results is desirable, and database management must address both short- and long-term requirements of players, staff, and programs.

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Interview in SpeedEndurance.com

By Iñigo Mujika on May 10th 2014
Godafoss, Iceland (Photo: Iñigo Mujika)

Godafoss, Iceland (Photo: Iñigo Mujika)

Here’s an interview that has just been published in the website SpeedEndurance.com. I hope you like it:

Read the interview


We Call It Football!

By Iñigo Mujika on May 3rd 2014
Iturraspe, Xabi Alonso y Ander

Iturraspe, Xabi Alonso and Ander (Photo: Athletic Club).

In the lead-up to the World Cup in Brazil, the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance has just published a special issue dedicated to Association Football (i.e. soccer), edited by myself and my good friend and colleague Franco Impellizzeri.

We wrote the editorial for this issue, which you can read here.

Silent, but not hibernating

By Iñigo Mujika on March 3rd 2014
Building in Tel Aviv. (Photo: Iñigo Mujika)

Building in Tel Aviv. (Photo: Iñigo Mujika)

My blog has been silent for the past few weeks, but I have not been hibernating. In fact, I have been quite active since my last blogpost on January 23rd. Here is a brief update on what I’ve been up to:

Read and comment Silent, but not hibernating

DoñanaOver the years, training more, training longer and harder has been the main recipe for elite athletes and coaches to keep improving and get ahead of the opposition. For those interested in finding out how much and how hard elite athletes actually train, just have a look at my past posts entitled Swim training camps, Athletes and coaches on a mission, or my recent publication Olympic preparation of a World-class female triathlete.

But some of us do not view training just as the time an athlete is exercising physically and mentally, but as a cycle that includes both, the time of exercise and the time needed to recover from and assimilate the stimuli provided by the exercise. In other words, training is a cycle including training time and recovery time. In the past decade or so, the importance of recovery for elite sports performance has been widely recognized, and reference training centers and sport federations have invested significant financial resources in recovery facilities and expert personnel. Such facilities usually include cold and hot water pools and baths, as well as relaxation areas, and recovery experts continuously emphasize the importance of sleep for recovery, as you can see in my post Sleep, the key to recovery and training adaptation.

Read and comment Elementary Anatomy and Physiology (VII). The importance of recovery