[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]
Training Approach: Is Miscellaneous a Thing?
Sometimes I look at the roster on this team Brandon and I have built and I can't believe we're here. I mean have you checked out the posts from Vanessa and John? Those two are legit! And Brandon, while, I mean, he also exercises! That is probably inspiring, right?
And don't even get me started on Tammy and Alex and Mat. I think that I honestly have learned more from my team that I ever could have hoped. These people train like athletes, because they are athletes. And I love seeing, day by day and week by week, their plans coming together.
My training has been sporadic as of late. And it's easy to get caught up in the "I'm not making progress". But what is the measure of that? And what is your timeline? Have I made progress from last week? No. Have I made progress from two years ago, oh man yes!
So my training, for better or for worse this year, comprises two parts. The first is not trying to keep up with the Hendersons (because I can't), the second, is trying to focus on my body's ability to function and perform, and not necessarily the performance itself.
But Trevor? What does that mean?
Great question Trevor!! For two years I've focused for one thing.....triathlon. I learned to swim, I learned to bike, I learned to run. I had to go from couch to Ironman and I did it with that goal in mind. I follow a plan from a book. I didn't question it. And it got me there. I still can't believe actually that it got me there. But it got me there. No brain power, just effort.
But Ironman itself is not a life long goal. Ironman is an event. So this season, I wanted to make sure that my body was functioning in a way that should I choose to Ironman (or trail run, or ski, or whatever) I would be physically able to do so, and to do so injury free, for a very long time to come.
Yes, that's right kid, I hate to break it to you. But aging is actually a thing (I didn't believe it) and so more than anything else, I prioritized injury free and functional this year. Because being sidelined last years sucked, and I hated it. So I'm going to do anything to avoid it. So what are my strategies this year.
I HIIT this year. High Intensity Interval Training (probably, I didn't google it). Go harder for shorter, and reduce your duration overall. My goal for this season was simple. Maximize my training time, maximize my ability to improve (which is an interesting concept. I distinguish between your improvement, and your ability to improve. I consider "improvement" a measure of how full you fill the cup of life you have, but "ability" is all about getting a bigger cup to subsequently fill). Plus I like HIIT training, always have. And I do it something like this:
- Bike Trainer: Select the "sprint" or "hill" or whatever else gets your heart rate pumping for short durations. The workout are hard, but the time passes fast because you're very much mentally engaged. Plus, you get a little ego boost every time you see your power exceed what it was last week. No one gets an ego boost from another 4 hour ride in zone 2 (well maybe people do, but they're weird).
- Swim: I'm incorporated a lot of skill pace and above interval sets this year. 100m for speed. 50m for speed. Repeat and repeat and repeat. Going faster in the water also makes it easier to learn to go faster as your body adapt to the proper swim position. My technique is improving every single day.
- Run: Get off the pavement. Go to the mountains, to the hills, to a field. I just read an article talking about the constant pounding your body takes running. I can see the logic. If it takes me 10000 steps to run a 10k, that' a lot of pounding on joints and feet and brain and everything that isn't "running" but is along for the ride anyway. If I can drop that to 3000 steps but through intensity get positive net changes, I'm ahead on two fronts: Fitness and injury prevention. Plus, like swimming, running fast helps your body learn how to run fast.
Like a monster this year and more than I ever have before. Yoga, squash, p90x, I even took a Learn to Row class (Boat Won!). This, more than anything, incorporates the "body function" element that I've been very focused on this year. Lateral movements to counteract the unidirectional biking and running pattern has been a big one for me. Why? Injury prevention. Strength is never bad and keeps your mind engage, and new activities are just damn fun!
Now, does this mean my training is unfocused. Absolutely. Does this mean that my race times will probably slower? Likely. But does this mean I will be positioning myself to "fill that cup" even more next year. You betcha!
And what are the surprising results compared to last year? Well, my bike FTP is just as strong as Ironman last year, so while my endurance is down, my ability is about where it needed to be. That means I've been able to maintain through this more "miscellaneous" approach a gain of approximately 60% over about this time last year. That's no small thing.
My swim average time is generally faster now
My run is slower. But I chalk that up to lack of leg time. I think running, more than anything else, really requires you to run to get good. I need to focus more on that. But....I can run hills way better than before! And even if that doesn't translate to a fast 20k time it's pretty fun to pass people going up hill.
This seems to be the fitness buzz word du jour of late. But I'm intrigued. I know my body is unbalanced. I know I don't know enough to correct it.
Similarly, I feel I've taken myself as far as I can go without professional assistance. I've made it pretty far, but it's time to enlist some help to go even further to improve that "ability" piece. So, after this race season ends in triumph or passes me by entirely (either one is a possibility right now) I have a plan to get some help to dig deeper into how my body functions, and to unlock the potential within. Hahaha, how cheesy does that sound? No seriously I just need a pro to tell me to do this and not that for a while to get things balanced out.
Yep, I've set 'em. I've also had to drastically modify them as of late. Set back? Absolutely. End of the road? Nope. Will you see me in Ironman Canada 70.3? Doubtful. Will you see me for years to come, you betcha you will!
I leave you with this thought: It's not your ability to focus one time, or your ability to focus over time, but your ability to regain your focus when you think it's lost that will help you continue to drive forward. Let your body dictate your effort, but let your focus drive the ability and the change.
Holy crap I almost forgot the most important change I've made this year! TO MOVE MORE EVERYDAY ALL DAY!
Seriously guys, this makes a massive difference. I couldn't believe it! But I now (for example) ride my bike to work and just by getting to work I get in ~50km of riding each week, for free! Sensorty toys at work to squeeze and toss. Standing. Stairs. These things are actually making a huge difference. Again, not in my improvement necessarily, but in my ability to improved. So this, number one big time happy benefit of life. Just. Move.
Okay I'm really done this time.