Listening to Your Body – Training Week 25

With just one week before my first triathlon of the season, I’m starting to get excited about seeing my progress from my training in the winter.  After 4 weeks of hard training, incorporating strength and power-based interval training, I’ve got to think about how much rest I’ll need before the race.  Although this isn’t a ‘goal-race’ of mine, I’d like to do well, and it’s always nice to get some reaffirmation of your training, with one of my goal-races now less than 6 weeks away, in June.

When to Rest

As this upcoming triathlon is sprint-distance, I’m not planning a big taper or much time off training. If this was a race I’d be aiming to peak for I’d take at least the day before off completely, with at least 3 / 4 days without any real hard efforts. Similarly, as this race is only likely to be 1 hour to 90 minutes, there’s no need to carbo-load or anything.  In order to perform well though, I need to establish how hard to train in the week before race.

What’s useful about the MAF method, and using heart-rate to train, is that you can compare your heart-rate information to your pace to establish how must rest you need.  For example, my longer run this week of 10miles at 155bpm, was at an average pace of 7.34min/mile.  In runs previously, at the same heart rate, I’ve been able to average a much quicker pace, nearer 7min/mile over a similar route and distance.  As heart-rate is a good indicator of how hard you’re working, I can tell that my body is tired, and the fatigue is affecting my performance – being 30 seconds/mile slower.  Similarly, my cadence was much lower than normal.  When I’m feeling fresh, or just less fatigued, I can routinely keep my cadence (strides per minute) at 172-175spm. However, on yesterday’s 10M run, I struggled to average 169. This might not sound much lower, but the difference in movements of your feet, how you contact the ground, and your leg speed between 175spm and 169spm, multiplied over the 12000-odd steps you take on a 10M run, could have a significant effect on your body, and your likelihood to pick up an injury.

I’ve learnt over the last few years to not feel guilty about missing a session if I feel tired, and that it’s better in to skip one session, then continue training the next day, than soldier on get too tired and end up having to miss several days.  If you’re training when overly-tired, with bad form then you’re much more likely to get injured. With that in mind, I took this morning off completely and will have a build in a couple extra rest sessions this week, with the day before the race completely off.

If your pace seems really low compared to your heart-rate,  or if you’re struggling to get your heart rate up on those tough runs, maybe you should take a couple of sessions off and recover.  If you continue to push on you could be progressively training more inefficiently, and more likely to get injured or get ill, no matter how epic it feels to soldier on (speaking from personal experience).

Anaerobic Transition

For the past 4 weeks, my anaerobic sessions have been mainly strength-based. This has meant that distances have been short, at max effort with a lot of recovery time between repetitions. This has allowed me to push my ceiling, and regain some strength and power that I haven’t been using during the long base-training period.  However, with just 6 weeks before my goal-races the time has come to work on some speed-endurance; the ability to drag high-speed over a race-distance.

This past weekend I tested my fitness with a 5k effort at my local Parkrun. I was able to hit a good pace for the first kilometre, and first mile, at around 5.40min/mile, but quickly faded and was running around 6min/mile by the end of the run.  My strength-based intervals have been going well but the 5k effort was a clear indication that I needed to work on my ability to drag high-speed over a race-distance.  Similarly, the 5k effort was another indicator that I needed to give my body some rest. My heart rate average over 5k was 176bpm, with a peak of 189bpm. When more well rested last October, I could average 189bpm and peak at 199bpm.  Not being able to raise my heart-rate, like I know I’m capable of, indicates I need some more rest if I’m going to perform well in the race next week.

Reviewing my training, and the 5k effort, I have decided it is time to transition from strength-based, max-out intervals with plenty of recovery between repetitions, to more race-pace efforts with a reduced recovery time. This should work on my body’s ability to deal with the lactic acid build up created in anaerobic respiration/ work-outs, whilst still pushing a hard pace.  This will allow me to carry a high-pace throughout a race, whereas the intervals I have been doing for the past 4 weeks have been about re-recruiting muscle fibres I haven’t used in months, and pushing my top-end pace.  I will adjust my training in this way across swimming, cycling and running.

To put figures to it (for running): rather than going at 4.55min/mile over 400m, with 3 minutes between repetitions, I will be running nearer 5.15min/mile with a minute between repetitions – much nearer my goal 5k pace (5.27min/mile for a sub 17min 5k – might be slightly over-ambitious!).


Last Week’s Training

Last week was as follows:

Monday Run:155bpm Hill Reps (50mins) Bike: 35min (+10min brick-run)
Tuesday Cycle: Commute Run: 6x600m (~5.05min/mile), 3min recovery
Wednesday Swim: 45mins Bike: Commute
Thursday Swim: Hard swim – 20x50m (off 1min) Bike: 70mins
Friday Swim: Endurance set Bike: 3x10mins at race-pace
Saturday Run: 5k effort Bike: Easy 30min spin (+10min brick-run)
Sunday Run: 70mins (10miles) REST


Weekly Totals Swim: 5,800yds Bike: 85.6M Run: 30.5M

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