Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Monday and Tuesday

Well both days were pretty much the same. And then again, pretty much not. I finally sat down and wrote out a training schedule. I know. I know. I know.

I always do much better by putting down a set schedule in writing. But for some reason, I seem to need some sort of dire threat each year to make me actually sit down and do it. And it didn't even take long. 5 minutes tops.

But now I have training "appointments" and I don't ever miss those unless I'm tired or sleepy. If you need my help with something or want to talk during these blocks of time I'm not available. And if they are in my calendar, I show up, do the work and go home. Case closed.

What I think is a mystery for most athletes is what exactly to do with these blocks of time and how many of them to schedule. Personally I like to think long term, which conversely makes much of the type of training to do moot.

In a nutshell my goal for the last several years was to change my body composition. Now that my average weight is between 146 and 148 pounds off season (previously it was 155 - 160), I can turn my attention to the overall process of building the engine necessary to actually train for an Ironman. So my only goal this year is creating the aerobic engine combined with the structural integrity in musculature, tendons and joints to be able to "train" properly for an Ironman distance race. Once I have the body and the aerobic and physiological structure in place, combined with proper nutrition and training, then I can think about "racing" an Ironman.

This is definitely not how most people approach their training, though reading that paragraph they might like to say they do. The reason I say this is because in order to take the approach I'm advocating, you give up a lot of short term accolades such as age group victories during the early years or just beating your buddies to the next stop sign in a sprint. But I'm cool with that.
Last week at the track I was talking to a guy in his late fifties who was telling me he didn't do Maximum Aerobic Function work because it forced him to run too slowly. He didn't feel like he was getting a workout and thus couldn't see the benefit. His fastest recent 10k was about 40 minutes and some change. All winter I've watched this guy lap me on the track as he runs his 400 meter intervals at close to 6 minute pace. He does his weekend long runs at a "slow 7:30 minute per mile pace, closing the session at about 7 minute pace. He does this year round. I don't even have to ask him if he's getting any faster.

At any rate, I on the other hand am getting faster and more efficient at running slowly. My MAF pace is almost a full minute per mile faster than when I started. And this is what makes what I actually do with my training appointments so easy. I train either at, as I do on the track, or below, as I do elsewhere, MAF. The only variable is the time spent. Easy.

So yesterday was an hour on the bike, this time on the stationary trainer maintaining easy cadence. The goal here is technique. I've been working on my connection to my feet in both cycling and running as a way to maximize power with less effort. And this is one of the unseen benefits of training at lower intensities. You are able to make real connection to the movement you are carrying out so that when you do speed up you can keep that connection and thus efficiency. Higher power output at lower effort = better end results.

After the bike there was an hour run. This was also easy. During the middle of the run I went "vertical" for 15 minutes and hit some stairs. Again the challenge here is to attack the stairs efficiently so that my heart rate stays low and I keep moving. No easy feet but I'm getting better at it. When I started these vertical runs I could only do about 7 minutes before my heart rate forced me to stop between ascents. Now I'm up to 15 minutes.

Today was the same except the bike and the run were 90 minutes a piece. This time the run was just on a flat road and the bike was outdoors. I had some trouble with my heart rate on the run because I didn't space the workouts apart do to some personal commitments and thus didn't properly hydrate but I was still aerobic. Tomorrow is more of the same and back on the track again. I start my swim cycle with strength work on Thursday. Train Well everyone!

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