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My Ideas On Winter Training For The Motivated
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younggun




Joined: 26 Apr 2005
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Location: Purf, Orstrayleeahh

PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:49 pm    Post subject: My Ideas On Winter Training For The Motivated Reply with quote

Intro
Are you wondering what to do this winter after your first season in tri? Or just getting the same results year after year? Many people slip into “lazy winter mode” and tick over from October until March and then “get serious” for the season; if you do this then you risk spending the first couple of months just recovering where you left off last season and you're unlikely to improve much from the previous year.

I prefer a more focused and aggressive approach to try and get more bites at the fitness cherry through the winter. You can use it to train your weaknesses effectively and hit next season fitter than where you left off this year. Just like training hard in-season, this is challenging and not risk free. If you enjoy your winter break and are happy at your level in the sport, then you are probably best staying as you are. If you really want to take a step forward then this may be just what you need.

Structure
I like to split training into short phases over the winter between 4 and 10 weeks in length. Normally phases would be at the longer end (8 to 10 weeks) but occasionally you might go for a short phase like 4 weeks to hit something hard (for example on a training camp abroad). A phase should always be aiming to achieving something and quite often would involve really focusing on one of the three disciplines to move it on to the next level. Out of season you can do this while backing off on the other two.

Try and have a clear and measurable goal for each phase. Defining this up front should help motivate you and keep you switched on during the dark months. Examples are to lop 30 seconds off your 400m time in the pool or to improve your steady running speed by 30 seconds per mile. Having something measurable allows you to see how effective a phase of training was. Never fail to learn what’s working and what isn’t – it will help you get more out of your training in the future.

Including training races within a phase is a good idea to provide further focus and motivation. Indeed, you might actually schedule phases due to available races – for instance putting a running phase into Jan/Feb during the XC season.

Why I like it this way
Short phases are great because you can get really focused and motivated for them. You are unlikely to get stale in 8 weeks but yet that’s long enough to achieve a lot. Training for longer periods than 10 weeks not only risks you getting stale but you can get so fixated with a routine you lose sight of what you are getting out of it. To formally restrict a given routine breaks training habits and forcing a change keeps you and your body on its toes.

Fatigue can be significant when you aim to train hard year round and you risk burnout if you train hard continuously through the year. To counter this I like to schedule 2 week breaks between the phases. You can do as little as you like during this break as long as it’s unstructured, un-pressured and of easy intensity. You will need the mental and physical break if you are to continue attacking your objectives aggressively in the following phases.

Working on Weaknesses
Winter’s the ideal time to work on your weaknesses, we all know that, but it’s quite rare for anyone to do this effectively. I think that might be because most people are afraid to be radical enough during the winter. Being a triathlete we are forced to split our training time up and when we plateau it’s very hard to make improvements in that discipline without devoting more time to it. A winter phase is the ideal time to bias your training heavily in favour of one of the three and really get focused on it. The fear, of course, is that you will lose fitness in the other two when you do this. This is a risk, yes, but you can recover lost fitness much quicker than attaining new levels and you should easily do this in a build-phase up to the season.

In a phase aimed at tackling a weakness I often like to forget about next summer and just focus on becoming a better swimmer or cyclist or runner (whichever you’ve chosen for that phase). As well as devoting more time to the discipline experiment with training more like a swimmer or cyclist or runner. Do those ridiculously short 200m flat out sprints on the track with the running club, or sprint between lamp-posts on the club chain gang or work on your medley swimming and turns with the masters group. Letting go of the constraints of being a triathlete allows you to really “live” a sport and enjoy it more. It might also give you insights into your performance you were never aware of.

Putting a Plan Together
To create a plan first consider the weaknesses that you need to work on and the weather and facilities available to you at different times of the year. For instance it might be worth doing a cycling phase in autumn, saving the swim phase for the dark months. Or you might have 10 days in Lanzo in March and want that in your bike phase.

Get a year planner and work backwards from your main target of next season. You’ll need to schedule a specific phase building up to that race. Although you’ve been hitting weaknesses through the winter with biased training this “build phase” should be all-round training in all three sports. The objective here is to prepare you for the specific requirements of your race. One of the benefits of training hard through the winter is that you’ll be pretty fit afterwards so you actually need fewer build weeks leading up to your A race than after a lazy winter.

Once the build phase is in place you can design winter phases to work on those weaknesses.

An Example Plan
At the end of this post there’s an example plan for someone training for a July 07 Ironman. At the risk of causing confusion, I included an all-round speed phase in Mar/Apr. I put this in because I see the majority of people training for IM (but not all) are actually lacking threshold speed – the idea here is to train like an Oly Dist athlete and improve your threshold speed. Then we can extend to IM distance specifics in the build phase.

A plan for Olympic distance wouldn’t be that different but obviously the build phase would be highly focused on optimising threshold pace and likely include more training races.

But shouldn’t I be base training over the winter?
There’s some confusion over the term “base” - a modern interpretation is somewhat different from just L2 training but I guess that’s what you’ll mean: There’s nothing wrong with L2 training and if you have a distinct low level aerobic weakness in one of the three then definitely yes – put in a L2 phase in that sport and really hit it for 8 weeks. I have to say that there aren’t many people who need to do this and even if you are one it’s still worth including some work at higher intensities to provide further overload.

If you just want to improve your fitness in a sport in a phase then I would include sessions at L2, L3 and L4 in your week and try and be progressive so as you gain fitness you increase the speed or duration to maintain overload. Including higher intensity sessions over the winter may be an alien idea to some but it will make you faster come the season.

Changing the plan when it's not working
Training hard year round is a tough business and even with lots of short breaks in training there will doubtless come a time sooner or later when your body or mind says “no more”. When this happens, don’t be surprised and try not to be disappointed. You might suddenly just lack motivation and wonder why you’re doing it or life events may take hold and you have to drop off your commitment to training for a while. When this happens you have to be disciplined, change the plan and take time off. A break of 4 weeks very light training might be appropriate if you feel some signs of burn out and then start up again. Taking the mental pressure off yourself is very important if this happens - don't sweat it, go with the flow. When you start up again ramp up gradually. A preparation phase of all round training for 6 weeks may be sensible if you’ve had a long layoff.

OK, there’s plenty more to say on the specifics of phases but I’m going to leave it there for this post – my fingers are experiencing overload. Rolling Eyes

Adam Young


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good4age




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So training for 70.3 champs every year, 11/11, will always foul up this system.
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duncan74




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post (as ever) Adam. Thanks for investing the time.

I'm intending to see how much winter training I can get in this year, partly to prepare for Bala, but also to make sure that I can do winter training before I enter IMNZ for 2008.
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fatboyinlycra




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

goodforage wrote:
So training for 70.3 champs every year, 11/11, will always foul up this system.


Oh come on. It was a general schedule, aimed at someone planning a IM in July.
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Fishman




Joined: 11 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great post, i guess im one of these 'newbies' who is currently planning what i need to do to gain world age group qualification next year. Have been competing in tri's now for 6months or so.

I have lots of experience through swimming of planning a season, when to peak, when to rest, when to work on technique so hopefully i can transfer some of this over to my cycle and run training. Need to knock of 11-15 minutes off my olympic pb as it stands, so with just over 8 months this should be do-able.

My plan is to join a run club and run with them twice a week, join my local tri club and maintain my one/two sessions a week in the pool - lucky in that respect that my swimming doesn't need too much work over winter months.
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good4age




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Entered Ironman Switzerland end of June. There must be many who have to rethink their early off -season training to cater for late races.
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AndyS.




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's always confused me is the 'base' and 'peaking' stuff. That suggests you don't do the hard stuff during base period and save it for your final push for the race. Once I ignored those two phrases I did a lot better. I actually find I train a lot better during the 'rest weeks' just because the pressure to achieve has been removed!!!

Thanks Adam.
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JD.




Joined: 07 Jan 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

great post - i'll read it again when i get home as i'm trying to sort out what to do over winter.

please could you give %maxHR for l2, l3, l4?

thanks.
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younggun




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John Douglas wrote:
please could you give %maxHR for l2, l3, l4?
John, these are karvonen %s, not max HR %s.

L2 65-75% long steady endurance / aerobic rides
L3 75-82% aerobic power development, long intervals or tempo rides
L4 82-89% lactate threshold training, medium length intervals or racing
L5 89-94% above threshold training, short intervals and short races
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White Noise




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

younggun wrote:
these are karvonen %s


based on working heart rate? Confused (MHR-RHR)
WN
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SolarEnergy




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice article. I'd pay for this !
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Rob O




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic post Adam. What i like about it is that it can be adapted to any yearly schedule .... and the importance of breaks to recover (let your body adapt to the training).
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younggun




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

White noise wrote:
younggun wrote:
these are karvonen %s


based on working heart rate? Confused (MHR-RHR)
WN
Yup.
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hdavies




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love your work Adam, only thing i would have to disagree with is the winter bike maintenence, if you are building aerobic power through intervals then backing off the intensity then it seems pretty pointless.

I would suggest that the 2nd bike phase is based on time trial efforts or timed rides of 15-20 miles (or hour blocks) to consolidate the interval gains then come back to the intervals albeit longer intervals with shorter rest than the 1st bike phase.

The 2 week breaks are enough to lessen the overall impact of high intensity training
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guccipiggy




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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'm loving this....
esp. the way people are starting to re-think periodisation and that the training bible is like the other bible, not to be taken literally.
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