Saturday, January 24, 2009

Providing unsolicited advice since 1996................

I have copied and pasted the following from my website in an attempt to populate my Blooger archives. I hope this looks relatively easy on the eyes.


"Including some limited high intensity work in your winter base training."

In last weeks initial "Triswami Speaks" which went out by old fashioned e-mail and can now be found on My Rants and Ruminations page of my website-, I wrote about the divergent arguments of "Go slow to go fast" v "Go fast to go fast". My opinion was that there was validity to both, but for the average age grouper we could never get in enough "go slow" base to justify an extended base building season of soley zone 2 training. To clarify, we cant spend an hour spinning easy on the trainer or lightly jogging with Fido around the 'hood and think that this is aerobic base building. It's aerobic, but for this audience, neither of those is building on our base endurance. You need to be married to that dang trainer for 2 and 4 hours at a time or take Fido for a 2 hour trail trot if you want to be adding to your aerobic base. Except for a few psycho lab rats (Hello Bruce G) who can ride mindlessly indoors for hours at weeks on end.......most of us just wont get that volume in Jan-March. Our base/volume tends to increase at the same time our intensity picks up. Not ideal......but real. Certainly, training for a winter marathon can provide for serious running base, but for most us that means letting the swim and bike take a backseat. Some of that running fitness will transfer, but it will not replace a winter of training all 3 equally.So, what's my point? The point is that we need to incorporate some basic sub-threshold and anaerobic threshold efforts into our winter training. So, when Spring finally springs, we can handle a little bump in volume AND intensity at the same time. Now, we needn’t hammer ourselves into submission. I am not suggesting 5 x 1 mile repeats on the track at 5k pace or 8 x 5 min in a huge gear at high zone 4. I simply think we need to throw in some short fartlek efforts and pick-ups on the run once, maybe twice, per week and a few high HR efforts on the bike. Not very many reps and not very long, but something to make us a little uncomfortable without having lingering effects into the next workout. Combined with strength training and still a bevy (80-90% of the total volume) of easy aerobic training and you'll be better prepared for the Springtime beat down that we inevitably go through.Next week, I'll provide an anectodal to this article.

Triswami has spoken............

"2 or Zone 4, that is the question."

It has become clear with the bevy of emails, blogs etc that the triathlon world is in mid-season form to debate the nuances of training. Not that anyone IS training, but boy-oh-boy can we talk about it!!!!!!!! So, until the weather turns and the days get longer, far be it from me to stand-by without putting in my two (or five) cents.

Okay, so……… the latest banter I saw were two separate debates. One, on “going slow to go fast” and the other, on “going fast to go fast”. I’d like to open with a suggestion that almost all these arguments must be qualified with whether we are talking about professional athletes or age group athletes. More precisely, athletes who have all the resources and time v those with limited resources and limited time. Triathlon is still a very young sport and research is limited. It’s not easy to find multiple studies yielding similar results. While at the same time, you can almost certainly find something to support any argument. Bottom line is, you have to find what works for you. I have some definite feelings about this-n-that (and clearly, I am right) based on my personal experience, combined with a pinch of science and skoash of common sense.

So, the simple version take-home-messages of these two schools of thought are-

You have to train at an easy aerobic level and build tons of volume before you can start working on the speed/power component.
You have to train at, or near, your anaerobic threshold in order to realize a movement in your HR zones and the ability to go faster at a lower heart rate.

There IS evidence to support both. The evidence is multi faceted and can be found in articles all over the internet. So, I won’t rehash. Suffice it say, both theories offer compelling rationale.

The “go slow to go fast” argument tends to hang it’s hat on the idea that you cannot train your anaerobic component sufficiently until after you have developed the aerobic component. I do not buy that completely, because there is a meshing of both anaerobic and aerobic training in almost everything we do. So, you are definitely still training the aerobic engine in middle of a set of all-out 50s in the pool.

Now, let’s stop for a moment and agree that both theories hold water and that ideally you build a huge base in the winter with long slow rides and runs and then integrate the hard stuff as the race season approaches. Sounds good. However, I have a HUGE problem believing that the average age grouper ever gets close to the type base volume required for this progression. We are going slow and short, when the idea is to go slow and long. Most elite athletes training for Olympic distance races put in more mileage (volume) than most age groupers training for Ironman. So, the age grouper misses part one of the equation. Their volume just isn’t very high. By virtue of winter weather and short days the age grouper’s volume tends to be less, not more, in the winter (aka base building season). So, if we wait to employ threshold efforts until our base is ideal, we’ll never get there. Plus, we risk injury if we start picking up the volume AND the intensity at the same time . i.e.- as the season approaches and the days get longer and warmer.

So, what is an age grouper to do when he is stuck inside all winter? Ride for 4 hours non-stop on his trainer? Hell No!!!! I think for the average age grouper there is something to be said for “go fast to go fast”. The trick is to go hard enough and often enough to get fit, while not going so hard, or so often that you either burn-out, or get injured.

In my next e-letter I’ll discuss my thoughts on “how hard and how often” (Insert Beavis and Butthead laugh, now)

Triswami has spoken……………__________________________________________________________________________________________


New Years Resolutions

We have all done it. Made resolutions and then have varying degree of success or failure. I am not a big fan of the new year resolution for the following reasons.
Resolution's root word is resolve. Relative to the general populace, do triathletes lack resolve?! I think not. Furthermore, do people actually reserve the changing of the calendar before they commit to changing or improving themselves? I suppose many do, but I'd suggest that these sort of resolutions are more likely than not, going to fail, because why wait until the new year to resolve something to which you are truly committed. I guess my point is, that we are only going to succeed in the resolutions that we truly want to do and why would we wait for the new year to do so? Often these new year resolutions are things we know we ought to do, but really don't want to. So, we use this annual tradition to make our lame commitment to something bound to fail. Now, I know that we have all succeeded at some point with a new year resolution, but it was probably something we wanted to do anyway. So how much resolve did it really take? For that matter, of these "successful" resolutions, how many took root and remain part of your daily life?
I have no closing thought, really; just that I think triathletes are already plenty resolute and a new calendar year will neither improve nor diminish the likelihood of clearing their already admirably high hurdles. You'll add that 4th swim per week when you get good ready, but not until then. A new year wont be the X factor. Which reminds me of a quote from famed PSU football coach Joe Paterno- "The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital".
So, I guess I did have a closing thought. Showing up on race day hoping/wanting/willing to do well has very little chance of occurring unless the preparation has been completed. I certainly hope a new year resolution is not going to be the motivating factor in your training. I hope the will to succeed will be insured by your will to prepare.


This Winter Leave Your “laptop” at Home

Consider this. The 4 fastest times ever recorded at Kona occurred before 1997. Long before GPS and PowerTaps. Only the most forward thinking geeks were using HR zones during the 80s and early 90s. I’d argue that Dave Scott, Mark Allen and course record holder, Luc van Lierde were not necessarily superior athletes to today’s stars, like Macca, Stadler, Alexander etc. Yet, only Stadler's 2006 8:11:56 is even close to the four fastest times. If the only time that matters is your finish time, then this fact adds a little credibility to the notion that a lot of this new technology is placing artificial barriers on our training and racing. Scott, Allen and co. were hammering the bike and tearing up the track long before the Timex Ironman or Polar HR Monitor were common place. Never mind a GPS or Power Meter. That’s not to say they wouldn’t have used these things had they been around, but the fact is, they went faster with less electronic bio feedback.

So, crazy as this sounds, let me suggest that this off-season and pre-season you try running without a watch, or at least leave your HR monitor/GPS at home. Take a bike ride with no cyclometer and no pre-determined route, or mileage. I know; that’s down right tri-geek treason. Isn’t it? Run for the sake of running??!!! Blasphemy! Ride down the road less travelled. You know the road. The one that you rode past every week for the last 6 months and wondered where it led. Crazy stuff, I know.

“But coach, how will I know how far I rode? How fast I ran?”
First- It’s the off-season. So, who cares? Second- It’s the off-season (or in January, the pre-season). This is the time to work on technique, form, strength and flexibility. At most, you are building aerobic base. And third- It’s the OFF-season!!!
OFF…… in “Turn your Garmin off.”

Simplify your life for a few months. Wait until Spring to break out the new “GPS Turbo Link Sublingual Probe and Core Temp Regulating Cyclo Juice Mixer”. You’ll have plenty of time to dial in the HR zones, avg.wattage etc. at that time.

Right now, most of your training should be in the aerobic/zone 2 range. That’s not to say that we can’t go hard just because you are sans tech. We have nothing to lose with a few months of primitive feedback. We might even hone our internal barometers a little and develop a better sense of RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion). If you want to roll easy, roll easy. If you want to work the run a bit, go for it. Listen to your body. Follow your intuition. Set the pace from your internal speedometer. There is a lot to be said for using RPE rather than electronic bio feedback.


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