[In this mini-series of articles, we explore the training regimes of our team members and ambassadors. There is no "one" way to get you to your goal and as you will see in this series on training regimes no two TUSA members take the same approach. From climbing over fences, to lower-for-longer, we look to expose a number of approaches to training in the hopes that you might find some tips, tricks or advice to help you reach your goals and improve your training regime]
Be Happy. Don't Let Training Bore You.
I have now entered my third year of triathlon. It has been an incredible journey over the last three years and I've learnt a lot, mostly through trial and error. It hasn't been easy. It has been time consuming - actual training, research, recovery, it has stressed relationships - family, friends, dating, and it has pushed me mentally.
Last year was intense. I set a seemingly insane goal of a full Ironman after having completed a few 70.3 races. It resulted in me adopting a, fairly rigid approach to training and, ultimately, my life. I followed, for the most part, the a medium intensity, full-distance training plan as outlined by TrainerRoad. This resulted in 10-15 hour weeks of training. This didn't include hours of recovery work and research. An incredible amount of effort and time for a "hobby".
Did this approach work? In short, yes. I successfully completed Ironman Victoria 70.3, Ironman Calgary 70.3 and the ultimate goal of Ironman Cozumel.
It didn't come without costs, however.
- My body was worn down - likely from over training and not enough focus on recovery. Too many - junk miles.
- I was irritable - again, likely from over training, poor diet and generally frustrated by what the level of training was taking away from my life - family, friends, etc
- I was prone to reoccurring injury - not enough focus on recovery, pushing myself too hard, too often.
- I was burnt out - I lost desire to do other things, other activities, my life was becoming very singular and linear.
- I was getting bored - long ass training sessions in Zone 2 or 3 got super boring. I was losing interest in training and that's not cool.
In the end, I completed my objectives, but it dawned on me that if I was going to keep doing this, I needed to focus more on my long term objectives.
With my long winded intro out of the way :), here is the changes I made to this years approach to training.
Training is only meant to enhance competitive performance
One of my core principles this year is to not train for the sake of training or checking off a box for the day. I'm training with purpose, to enhance performance, not to log KM or hours.
Coach or Self-Trained
Everyone who reads this blog knows I go the self-trained route. While I do use TrainerRoad to provide me the bones of my schedule, it is just me motivating and providing myself feedback. I rely on friends, other athletes and the internet to improve and get feedback.
This year I'm targeting 8-10 hours per week, maybe even less. This time will be spread out over all three disciplines, with the introduction of more strength training.
I'm also looking at a different approach to my overall sessions mirrored off Mark Sisson's Primal Endurance. I won't get into too much detail, because I really could talk about it for a long ass time. In general, it focuses on balancing stress and rest and being intuitive about your workout decisions and scheduling. It focuses on aerobic base building, nutritious eating, complementary lifestyle practices and the correct implementation of high intensity exercises. It stresses the avoidance of "chronic cardio" - too many moderate-to-difficult-intensity workouts with insufficient rest and recovery.
What does it look like? Well it looks like training that emphasizes lots of aerobic training - heart rate below or at the maximum aerobic heart rate ( 180-age), supplemented with high-intensity intervals once or twice during the week (with sufficient recovery between) and a focused, measured strength training program.
Not your conventional approach. Hard to execute after a year of a conventional approach. But thus far it has been going well. I'm more rested. I feel stronger. I'm training less hours overall and the quality of my sessions is much better.
Sleep & Recovery
Sleep and Recovery plagued me last year. I would sacrifice sleep to "sneak" in morning workouts and I would sacrifice recovery to get more sleep or to make sure I checked off my box for a training session in my schedule. Even worse, I would trade recovery days for getting in missed workouts.
DO NOT DO THAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sleep and recovery are the most important parts of any plan. You are putting yourself through a lot. Let your body recovery. You are only hurting yourself, the result being moderate intensity workouts that do little for your long-term performance but only burn you out.
This year I've accepted that I'm not a morning workout person. I'm just not. I no longer try to get up early. I take this time to sleep. This has resulted in 1-2 hours more of sleep - I feel better mentally and physically.
I've also dedicated at minimum 20 mins each morning to stretching and treating areas of my body that are sore or tight. I've found this to be forced recovery and has greatly increased my overall mobility, flexibility and reduced soreness and tightness. This is obviously in addition to warm up and cool down before sessions, creating a significant amount of my scheduled training focused on recovery and rest.
Plain and simple, I've added more strengthening and weight training into the approach. It takes away from endurance work, but it just can't be ignored any more. I'm getting older. I'm getting more prone to injury. There is no doubt that focused strength training will help prevent injury and increase performance. Often overlooked by endurance athletes, it shouldn't be.
If it isn't in your training plan put it there. Once a week is better than never.
All of the above has left me feeling better, mentally and physically. It has also allowed me to clear up a lot of time in my schedule to focus on the things that are important to me - Friends and Family. I think they will agree, I've become much more enjoyable and fun to be around. Not to mention, I'm actually around these days.
Love you guys.
Thanks for sticking with me.
Find What Works For You
There is no golden approach to training.
You have to find what works for you.
I know in the short term this change of approach will likely impact my race times and performance. However, I believe that it is in the benefit of my longer term health and mental sanity.
I'm going to stick with it. Over time I'm confident I'll start hitting the goals I have for triathlon and that these goals will not come at the expense of my long-term health or relationships.
Happy Training Everyone!