Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Iris Questions and Answers

Disregard this post if you aren't pretty interested in triathlon training. It will put you to sleep. It probably will anyway. I don't care.

One of my friends, Iris, recently asked for some input on her upcoming season and how to structure it. Good questions. Trying to provide some useful feedback got me thinking and I thought I would share my answer. These are some things that have taken a long time for me to learn. Disclaimer: training is so individual that, while this is great training for me, it may leave something to be desired for you. Different strokes for different folks. Anyway, on with the show.


This statement “Anyway, pretty soon I really want to start doing lots and lots and lots of training.” is not a good idea. Start lightly with mostly aerobic stuff. Keep it pretty aerobic/ steady for 6-8 weeks, then you can start to inject some intensity. Keep in mind, aerobic does not mean slow. It is pretty challenging to keep steady and not fade when in your aerobic zone. It starts out feeling easy then it gets pretty tough once you are a while in… Once you can maintain power for say 2.5-3 hours on the bike, you have earned the right to continue to intense training. Think of it as graduating to harder training.

Here are some basic guidelines and things that have worked for me (may not work for you)

· Consistency in all disciplines, almost never went more than 72 hrs between sessions in each sport

· Frequency in running to build durability... A lot of injuries come from people neglecting to train their connective tissue (doesn’t have to be long but I was running 5-7 times a week most weeks- low intensity on most)

· Strength on the bike (lots of steady/ mod hard efforts… building the distance on these during the major IM build)

· Continuous swimming was a good addition but I was lacking variety/ overall length in swim training

· I used lots of caution with intensity but probably too little development of top end

· Racing infrequently to keep training blocks uninterrupted (probably not applicable to you as you seem to handle a large race load…big difference between small girls and large guys)

She then asked a question about recovery and the 3 weeks on, 1 week off axiom of triathlon training....

I disagree with the 3 up 1 down system...this is the structure that most people follow, but I have found that it is too long to train and too long to recover. I think most people would do better with a 10-16 day training period followed by a 2-5 day block of recovery... I find that overall I can take fewer recovery days this way and hit the training with fresher legs.

For example, If you can make 10 days of training, then take 2 recovery days to feel fresh, then repeat. You have just completed 20 training days and 4 recovery days vs the 3 up 1 down system of 21 training and 7 recovery days ... 10 and 2 is more efficient and generally the 10 and 10 are more quality than 21 straight. Personally, if I train hard longer than 16 days and try to make it 21, the last five days are shit and worthless in terms of building fitness. To make matters worse, it almost always takes the full 7 days to fully recover. The point is to maximize your training time during your blocks and get completely fresh during your recovery... Simple but not easy.

I take recovery by feel. If it takes 2 days to feel completely fresh, then good and I will immediately get back into training. If it takes 7, then fine but the point is to feel completely fresh. Same with training, if you get blasted quick then take a day off. You should end your training block feeling properly tired... not too deep in the bucket, but definitely not fresh... it takes a long time to learn what is properly tired. It takes time to learn the system that is best for you.

My overall guidelines are to be frequent, be consistent, don’t overdo it in any individual session and don’t get caught up in competition in practice…sometimes is ok but all the time is not, be diligent about recovery, minimize processed food and gluten. Work in the following order: form then aerobic/strength then speed.


Amanda said...

so are you going to be offering coaching services? i am with ya on the periods of training/recovery. i'm not so good with the 3/1 week system. good insightful post though

Alex said...

I've read about doing training blocks like that (I think it says something about it in the Triathletes Training Bible). Obviously it's easier to plan things by week so you can do long stuff on weekends.
If you do a block of 10 days, say, how do you usually approach your long endurance stuff? For example will you do two long rides in that period as opposed to the usual one-a-week approach? I'd like to try that this year, I agree that 3/1 is too long for training AND recovery.

Mary Lou said...

I guess you do have readers other than your mother.