January 14, 2012

Build One. I love seeing that. It’s been a good 12 weeks of base training. By nature, genetic, all of that I am more of an anaerobic athlete. Therefore I proceed through base training in a mostly aerobic fashion. An athlete like Jennie on the other hand, is supremely aerobic and benefits more from a reverse periodization like plan. This recent article by Jesse beautifully outlines what that might look like.

Many athletes can definitely benefit from workouts like PPT’s, but what I can attest to is that at QT2 we test our athletes and determine exactly what type of load they need. I need more of an aerobic load. What we don’t do is this…. I think I am so therefore I will. We are sticklers on that to be honest. We need to figure out exactly what you are before we prescribe the training.

Which in itself answers the questions I get time after time whether QT2 is all base and volume. It all depends on the athlete. We don’t do what we think you are, we do what you are.

After 12 weeks of base training I enter into my build one. With about 5 weeks until camp and 10 until Texas 70.3 it feels like it’s timed out perfectly. I like that it’s January and I am beginning the harder efforts. I have some road races coming up shortly, a 5K at camp to be specific and what we use these smaller efforts for is to look at the progression of what we call performance indicators to help us measure progress. While we want to do well, I don’t want to run the fastest 5K of my life in February. I think too many athletes get hung up on single sport and not enough of us take a look at the sport as a whole. Here is a terrific article written by a local coach which articulates that point very well.

As a swimmer I fell into that trap too many times in my early days. It took a huge leap of faith and a big mental shift to think of myself as a triathlete so many years ago. Those athletes who can’t separate their past from their present is  one of the reasons you see so many runners, nailing 5 and 10K’s and not nearly hitting potential off the bike. It’s triathlon’s best kept secret.

I am not naturally a numbers girl but I think too many athletes go out and train and never really know how to measure their progress or even what that progress means. You don’t have to get the 8 million dollar gadget to keep track of improvements but if you are truly serious about your improvement on any level, you have to watch something. perceived exertion is wonderful and reliable but at the end of the day it’s too subjective to adequately track.

Below are four good reasons to track numbers, this is a blog written by my coach Jesse, and I copied it rather than link it because it’s that important.

These are my top 4 reasons why this is the way to train if you are serious about improvement. The alternative is to continue training with a fluffy, “hope what I’m doing in training is right and I hope there is magic on race day” approach. Sorry to be so forward with this but I feel it’s probably one of the most missed concepts by serious athletes and what typically separates the top of the field from the rest.

1) Never once with any of the athletes I have coached or do coach have I seen an athlete magically beat what their performance indicators (20 min wattage, 5k pace, 400 yard TT pace) tell us they should do. They are typically in-line with expectations unless slower because something went drastically wrong. Almost never faster.

2) Numbers provide focus in training. Focus is one of the keys to long term progress that keeps you pressing on your previous bests. Without numbers, your body wants to stay where it is so your training will do the same. You’re likely to go too hard on recovery days and not hard enough on key days.

3) Unfortunately there is no magic on race day. Typically folks who train and race by feel, believe there is some level of magic that will occur on race day…..this is simply not true. Knowing what you are capable of and executing that on race day accordingly will result in what’s expected based on your training. Unrealistic race goals that are pulled from thin air result in disappointing performances as well as detrimental pacing strategies.

4) Unfortunately, many people connect some emotional/personal basis to their goals (i.e., they just choose a race goal because that is the time they would LIKE to do with no real physical basis for that goal). That’s not what goals should be about and typically results in failure. The emotional/personal part should be executed in training as you make sacrifices to hit the goal performance indicator numbers you’d like to. Once race day comes, it’s about executing your plan and letting those numbers (the one’s you’ve created in training) unfold. Then, it’s back to the emotional/personal as you enjoy the result of your sacrifices.

Sorry this paints such an objective picture of racing, but after 10+ years in the sport, I can tell you that there is no magic. The closest thing is the magic that allows age group athletes to work 40+ hours, take care of their children/family, and still train 25+ hours per week……that’s magic.

I am excited about the next ten weeks. I am excited to watch the numbers changed that I have solidified in base training. I am welcoming the harder efforts…. good golly it’s been a while. I always know I am ready for the hurt box, when I have had a good aerobic build into it.

Because Texas is calling. And I LOVE Texas. This time I am leaving with cowboy boots.


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