It’s not about the workout

This week I have been reflecting on what it is about endurance sports that is truly compelling. It is true that pushing the boundaries, increasing speed, and competing are all exciting. We all strive to meet athletic goals each year both large and small.

All well and good. But as I reflect on the year, what really resonates with me are the simple moments of being outside. Small quotes from athletes like “God I love riding bikes.” It’s the simple act of being transported back in time to childhood. Running in the snow, swimming in lakes and rivers, and feeling the cool breeze on your face in the fall. The many moments we experience in the outside world, unplugged and in touch with our senses.

Perhaps it is the melancholy that comes with aging, but I feel blessed to be surrounded by friends, athletes, and fellow children that just love simply being outside together.

It is not always about the workout! Take a moment to look up and see the world around you. Feel the breeze, watch the trees change, and feel the seasons pass – each with their own joy.

I just love riding my bike, too.

Coach Peter

Get stronger, faster, durable, more skilled this fall….

The fall is a wonderful time of year… The temperatures are cooler and you can introduce focus blocks into your training to improve on personal limiters. During the race season, the focus is on race specific preparation, but the fall allows you to step back, be disciplined and address gaps when you don’t have so many competing priorities.

Good examples are:

  1. Improve your run speed potential – Complete a focused run program with speed work aimed at a short higher intensity race such as a 5k or 10K. You have to run faster to run fast.
  2. Lack force development on the bike – Complete a focused progression of strength development including anatomical adaptation, maximum strength, and power development phases, before returning back to a strength maintenance routine.
  3. Want to improve your FTP – Complete a focused program of higher intensity intervals on the bike that drive up your lactate threshold and V02Max, before returning back to longer endurance work.
  4. Lack flexibility and constantly plagued by niggles & injuries that slow down your season progress – Get off the couch, focus on strength development & stretching to improve your durability and range of motion.
  5. Not comfortable on your bike at high speed or in a group – Complete a bike skills workshop & then integrate the skills practice into your weekly routine.

The key to year over year improvement is to use the early part of the season to close a gap in your athletic capabilities. Focus on 1 gap not 5. We all have 5 things we want to fix. Try fixing 1. You will be amazed what a difference it will make and how you will release new performances in the next year.

The successful and improving athletes are the ones who are disciplined and look to improve one aspect of their overall performance each year. Do this now when the stakes are lower, and then you can integrate this progress into your regular training progression in the new year. Trying to do this when the weather is warmer and races are upcoming is too late.

Not sure what to do. Speak to a coach. A detailed discussion about your strengths and opportunities is a place to start followed by commitment to a few smaller goals during the tail end of the year.

See you out there….

Peter

2018 off season program registration opens!

Startline Coaching is offering a two month “off season” program to work on weaknesses, strength deficits, and add some variety to your training. The “off season” is a period of de-training and essential mental and physical revitalization. But as we all know, it all so often turns to couch surfing and weight gain through the holiday period.

Add some structure to your fall with a group training program. This is also a perfect program for those returning to endurance training after a long lay off. The program is purposely aimed to address the niggles we all feel after a racing season and help those looking to establish a training routine. The goal of the program is to set you up for a successful 2019 training progression and race calendar.

USAT10SanctionedEvents

The USAT sanctioned program culminates with a running event to baseline your off season fitness.

Interested? Training begins November 3, 2018.  Look here for details

Recover right!

Tired AthleteTraining creates stress impulses, and these stress impulses create adaptive responses in the body.  This adaptation can be either functional or non-functional. As athletes, we always aim for functional adaptations that improve performance.

Humans are adaptive machines, but we cannot always predict the ways in which our bodies will react. One workout sequence may develop your performance perfectly well for one training cycle and yet in another have a totally different effect. The way we influence the body to adapt functionally is through progressive increases in training load and also through recovery!

Athletes spend a lot of time adapting to an increasing training load. However, what is often left out is the other component of the equation, which is recovery.

Training + Recovery = Optimal (functional) adaptation = performance

The key is to optimize both components of the equation to achieve optimal adaptation and thus performance.

Everyone pretty much agrees that 1) a 3-4 week cycle of progressive increases in training load including a week of decreased training load; and 2) specific days off are very important to ensure adequate recovery. What is often missed or neglected is an intentional approach to recovery between workouts. Having an intentional recovery protocol between training bouts prepares the athlete more quickly for the next session and maximizes the opportunity to improve quickly.

Not being intentional and implementing a recovery protocol means athletes leave huge opportunities for performance gains on the table. They cannot train as hard, as long, or as often. Here are some key thoughts to take way.

Before workouts:

  1. Eat & Drink – Ensure you have a pre workout meal and enter the workout well hydrated. Do not force the body into energy or hydration deficit before workouts.
  2. Warm up – Perform a complete warm up before executing a hard workout. Dynamic stretching, a slow jog/ride, and drills are excellent. This will maximize blood flow to the tissues, stimulate neuromuscular pathways, increase performance, and reduce injury risk.

During workouts:

  1. Eat & Drink – Ensure you walk into each workout with an appropriate nutrition & hydration plan for the intensity & duration of the workout. Execute the plan.

After workout recovery:

  1. Cool down – Perform an adequate cool down after a hard workout. Walk it out. Return muscles from a state of high tension to relaxation.
  2. Stretch – Always stretch and do it while still warm to ensure your muscles stay flexible.
  3. Eat & Drink – Eat your post workout recovery meal within 30 minutes of the workout including both protein (non soy) & carbohydrates to maximize the opportunity muscle resynthesis and to restore glycogen stores. This is especially important for women. Restore fluids lost through exercise.
  4. Ice – Ice joints and sore tendons after workouts.
  5. Rest/Nap – Put your feet up & get a cat nap. Nothing good comes from executing a hard workout and then standing on your feet all day.

Every day:

  1. Eat – Ensure your diet is healthy & you are not in a low energy state. Eat fruit, nuts, seeds, vegetables, lean protein (non soy), and lean dairy throughout the day – 5 times a day to manage energy stores and blood sugar levels. Ensure you have the nutritional components to build muscle in response to training demand
  2. Massage – Roll your muscles to maintain flexibility & eliminate tightness
  3. Sleep –  Human Growth hormone, essential to muscle repair & growth, is released as you sleep (typically in the 2-3rd hour of sleep). You get stronger when you sleep not when you are awake. So get to bed at a reasonable time & sleep.

Like training, where consistency is king, recovery benefits from a consistent approach as well.

Be intentional. Recovery is training.

What is base building?

Base building is the general phase of the annual training plan/progression where an athlete develops the fitness or chronic training load to complete their goal races. Each race has a specific demand in terms of overall training preparedness.

Focus areas:

  • Increase overall training duration to target peak training load by end of base period
  • Develop pace & power in line with a specific (10) % improvement target
  • Improve skills especially in the swim and bike handling
  • Address strength imbalances & weaknesses and other performance limiters

The workouts throughout the base should be sufficiently targeted and frequent to elicit a specific training response for each focus area. The way to get better at anything is repetition.

Elite athletes prepare with significantly higher target training loads for their A-races than do age-groupers. The guidelines below are informative. Intermediate athletes should consider the lower end of each range when setting the target training load  As you become a more durable athlete over multiple seasons, consider higher training loads in your annual training plan balancing work, home, and rest.

Target CTL Chart

Peter

Specificity

Often athletes believe base development is all about going low & easy, and the build phase is about working hard with high intensity. I would prefer to look at it as a general & specific phase in order to be more precise.

  • Base (General) – Developing your chronic training load (CTL) or fitness to a level that is appropriate to your goal race.
  • Build (Specific) – Executing specific training that simulates race intensities, requirements, and conditions.

The Specificity Principle is a principle that states that exercising a certain body part, component of the body, or particular skill primarily develops that part or skill.

Each event that an athlete trains for has specific intensity, duration, and skill requirements. Assuming a well developed base has been developed during the general phase, each athlete should turn to executing race simulation workouts each week when approx. 8-10 weeks away from their goal race. Specific workouts should become the predominant focus.

graphic

This means that during the specific phase, long course athletes will tend to execute longer lower intensity workouts, while short course athletes will focus on higher intensity workouts. General development for these two types of athletes could be quite similar in structure, but the annual training plans will diverge as each athlete enters the specific phase of their annual training progression.

Simulate your race by executing workouts on terrain that matches or is more difficult than your goal race, practicing your race nutrition, and pacing at the intensity you intend to execute for your race.

Another way to to think about specificity: There are no miracles on race day, just execution of what you have already practiced and experienced in training.

Peter

2018 Open Sky Training camp calendar

Prepare for your A race with a multi-day training camp experience.

ost-logoOpen Sky Training camps offer extensive coach contact, 12-56 mile open road rides with specific workout prescriptions aimed at race events, small group swim skills development at Bard College pool, open water lake swims, and sport specific clinics. Run & ride beautiful vistas, combine routes to go any distance, and enjoy delicious food in the company of fellow athletes.

2018 Camp schedule:

  • May 18-20 – Led by Startline Coaching – Coach Peter
  • June 8-10 – Led by Startline Coaching – Coach Peter
  • June 22-24
  • August 3-5

USAT10SanctionedEvents

The camp is fully catered (the food is outstanding) and includes accommodations while spots in the house last