Let's Talk About How You Should Be Training Right Now
Athletes- I know exactly how you are feeling right now. It’s Spring 2020 and you want to GET AFTER IT with your training. The weather is warmer and more conducive to long rides and runs. The days are longer, the mornings have more sunshine and it’s a really good time to log training miles. I get it.
The only missing piece to this effort is that you have no races to train for, at least for the foreseeable future. As a coach, I am super hopeful for at least a fall racing season although that is still up in the air. I want nothing more thank to see you train, race, and compete and I am praying that this pandemic ends soon so you can make that happen.
But for now, you have to train SMART, not necessarily hard. Right now, it’s ok to be building your rock solid base, working aerobically for the most part, and logging some steady training miles. What you do not want to do, however, is go cra cra on the hard efforts and too much training volume.
I keep reading a ton of articles about this. It’s sort of like the story of the hare and the tortoise. Slow and consistent wins the race. With no races on the calendar and more time on your hands, it’s super tempting to rack up some killer workouts at high intensities. A better idea, however, is to stay in your aerobic HR zone (Z2/Z3) because this is where you build your fitness foundation.
Not to get complicated, but this is where you are using fat stores for fuel; if you raise the effort a little and you’ll start to burn carbs. As an endurance athlete, the more work you can do while burning fat for fuel and sparing glycogen (stored carbohydrates in your muscles and liver), the longer and faster you’ll be able to ride/run/swim before running out of gas. Staying in your fat burning zone for right now is a good thing. In other words, think fat burning (Z2/Z3) not sugar burning (Z4).
Typically, Aerobic Threshold is somewhere around 75-85% of your Max HR; this would be a perceived exertion of around 3-5 on a scale of 1 to 10. I personally always use Ironman University Training Intensity Zones.
As a competitive athlete, training hard is a daily thing, and feeling fatigued becomes the “normal”. Endurance training in your aerobic zones shouldn’t feel this way. Instead of feeling that normal feeling of fatigue, you should feel more energized and fresh because you are not pushing yourself to the limit right now.
A lot of my athletes want the continued push, and tend to freak out when I give them anything less than Z3 in their training program. There is that need for intensity, pushing hard, and feeling exhaustion afterwards.
All I am saying is NOW is NOT the time. The focus is not on big efforts and hard workouts. It’s about rehabbing some long time nagging injuries, stretching more, strength training, and long slow efforts to build that precious base. Going all out now and trying to stay at that level for many months is only going to slow you down in the long run. Shift the focus to building a killer base.
Your time will come and it is approaching. Just be patient and train smart right now for the fall!
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