Online Triathlon Coaching: Training with MaccaX and MX Plus

    

I ran into the Posedown Posse yesterday after a solo run session, and had breakfast with them just like old times. Our conversation turned to how I’ve been training these days, so I had the opportunity to explain what Team MaccaX and MX Plus is about.

Team MaccaX
Team MaccaX

Team MaccaX is a global community of athletes brought together and mentored by Chris “Macca” McCormack. It started two years ago as an outgrowth of Macca’s Facebook page, where people asked him a lot of questions about training and racing. Who better to get great advice from than a four-time world champion in triathlon?

When I met Macca last June, I was looking for a bit more structure to my training but knew it had to be flexible. Macca is known for a “fluffy” training regimen, not in the sense that it’s light, but more of the fact that his schedule of sessions and his training build-up leading to a race isn’t set in stone, but can change. I wanted to know what made this guy tick, so I signed up for membership on Team MaccaX. It’s only $29 monthly, much less than I would need to pay for a gym membership, and I figured if I didn’t find anything there that could help me, I could always leave.

With MaccaX membership, I got access to a private forum on the website where I can ask questions and also learn from previous discussions about training, nutrition, racing, strength and conditioning, and much more. Macca replies in-depth with great detail and enthusiasm, like he’s really personally invested in making the members perform better. He also has a crew of experts (we call them MXperts) who specialize in at least one of the three disciplines of triathlon and/or race professionally.

experts Chris McCormack, Belinda Granger, Ben Greenfield, Brenton Ford, James Dunne, Justin Granger
pro triathletes Belinda and Justin Granger and Ben Greenfield, swim expert Brenton Ford, running expert James Dunne

Aside from the forum, which is a gold mine one can just pick nuggets of wisdom out of (no need to sift through crap advice like you would on some of the other triathlon forums out there), I also have the opportunity for monthly live spreecasts with Macca and some invited experts where we can personally ask our questions and get feedback. Next week, we have a spreecast with Belinda Granger and I’ve got a great question to ask her.


live MaccaX spreecast

The other benefits of membership include free team swag — in your first month you get a visor which is exactly the same design as the visor Macca wears, on your sixth month you get sunglasses, etc. There are also members-only team camps you can attend; this year the camps are in Miami (currently ongoing) and Phuket (in three weeks’ time).

Rocking the MaccaX visor
I gave my MaccaX visor to my friend Joel

Members come from all over the world. Right now there are over 800 of us, including Fil-Am triathlete Arland Macasieb (who incidentally was recently announced as a Cobra energy drink ambassador) but I’m currently the only one based in the Philippines. We’re blessed in the Philippines that we can join existing local tri teams and clubs — I love Team Endure! that is all — but in other places where teams are hard to come by, MaccaX gives its members a sense of belonging.

If you plan on racing overseas, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll come across a MaccaX member who will make you feel at home. We’re a fun, diverse bunch; aside from the speedy beasts who could probably eat me alive in a race, we also have the Back-of-Pack who are no less passionate about participating in triathlons.

All that is fantastic as is, but what really changed my training regimen for the better was MX Plus. In the past, Macca has offered 12 of the toughest sessions he uses in training as a package called MX 12. People started asking how to plug the sessions into a training week and how to get the right blend of sessions so that they didn’t over- or under-train. This led to the development of MX Plus. (As a MaccaX member, I got a 25% discount on the Plus product. :D)

MX Plus: triathlon training solution
MX Plus

Macca works off what he calls a “skeleton” program: each day has a single key session, which he defines as the must-do session you need in order to survive the race you’re preparing for. There can be more sessions in the day, but if after doing the key session you feel tired, or if you don’t have enough time, you can drop the secondary sessions (hence why Macca’s regimen is perceived as “fluffy”). The key session just needs to be done with quality.

MX Plus offers three “skeletons” into which you can plug sessions: a 7-Day Weekend Warrior, the Darren Smith Organic, and the 10-Day Professional. Every day has a specific focus, whether it’s Recovery, Speed, Strength, or Foundation, and the kind of key session you do depends on that.

For instance, Thursdays are strength days during which I work on holding pace or intensity even under load. I do a run session called the Accordion, which is 1-mile fartlek repeats: I’ll run 800 meters at my 10K pace, then jog the rest of the mile as recovery. The total time I run each mile is my marathon per-mile pace. If I’m feeling good, I’ll follow that up with Stackers, a strength-focused bike session. If I’m tired after the run, I can either skip the bike session, or do a softer spin or maybe a swim. The point is to do your key session well.

You can periodize on this skeleton program, putting your body in slight overload for two weeks by increasing the intensity, number of sessions, or total mileage (best done during the weekend’s long bike and run), then have a softer week after for recovery. You can also do blocks where you focus on a specific discipline, so all your key sessions might be on the bike during a block for improving bike performance, or you can focus on the swim, etc.

This is my fourth month on MX Plus, and I’ve been seeing results across all three disciplines but most dramatically on the bike because that’s what I’ve focused on. My swim fitness has improved (of course I still need my coach to check form), and I know I can rely on my legs to deliver a strong run no matter what.

Just recently the MaccaX app for iPhone was released, and because I own the MX Plus product, I get the Tri 10 coaching pack for free (normal value is $49.99). These are 10 real-time audio sessions coached by Macca, Terenzo Bozzone, Belinda Granger, and Dr. Phil Maffetone. If you have a Bluetooth heart rate strap, you can link it to your iPhone and get HR coaching alerts to keep you in your zones while training.

MaccaX app for iPhone
MaccaX iPhone app

There’s no doubt hiring a coach will keep you on point and help you when your motivation is low. But there’s also a case to be made for finding your own way in training for triathlon, and MaccaX and MX Plus gives you the tools and resources to do that. I can tell you, it works if you’re self-motivated, can listen to your body, and are willing to work hard!

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