Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Triathlon Training: The More You Do The More You Want

I put in a solid workout this morning.  Soon I'll be off for the dreaded lunch time swim test.  Since my base building period started in late October (mostly ~30 mile weeks of solid aerobic work) I'm starting to shake off several layers of fat and feel some snap buried in there somewhere.  I know... you're happy for me.  I try to keep my training numbers out of this blog, but sometimes it does prove my point.  If you're a serious triathlete, you'll understand that these numbers are clearly age group and by no stretch elite.  Gotta do what you can with the time available.

What's the lesson here?  The purpose of my training and racing is to "walk the walk and talk the talk" so that I can relate my personal training and racing experiences seen through the fog of fatigue.  Here is the key:

The more you train the easier it is to train.  When the endorphins kick in (they always come through) the more you will WANT to train.  A body in motion stays in motion.

Endurance sports training has another edge to this sword, what happens when you start gaining in each workout and then (for whatever reason) you cannot get to the gym, pool, bike class, trainer, etc?  It's hard to get "into the groove" and get back isn't it.  I know... I've been away for four years.

Much of this is due to physiological adaptations to aerobic endurance exercise.  I'm not even talking about fat here either.  I'm talking about your oxidative enzymes that get like a well warmed up engine when you are trained.  That combined with the higher blood plasma levels you experience help to make you feel better each workout (well... to a certain extent).  In base building periods, many elite runners run 100+ miles a week, elite swimmers swim doubles and truly insane number of meters and elite cyclists spend "8 hours a day on my bike busting my ass" daily.  The physiological adaptations to the volume make them feel stronger.  The Finnish Olympic team proved that in the 1972 Olympics.  Their team had done massive base miles and were far more fit than the average Olympian.  The US team focused on power, speed, strength.  When both athletes were fatigued... the Finns pulled away.  This can be overdone.  Overtraining is worse than under training, so you have to be cautious and listen to your body.  Some athletes can go hard daily.  Others need more rest.  From my college swimming and water polo experience I can tell you that I can take a beating in training and physically (water polo) and keep coming at you.  What I learned is that if we were smarter with this enormous training load our college swimming team could have been outstanding.  The talent was there in the pool.

A lot of athletes hate tapering.  Perhaps that is an understatement.  Look at MLB baseball teams who handle the daily grind of games, win their division and then fail in the playoffs.  They feel overly sluggish and on the important days (or in our case- race day) they are stiff, clumsy, "thick" and lethargic. That's why each athlete needs to figure out what works best for them.  That's why some people who "jump into" a race last minute without a taper do fine and others don't.  The best example of this is my friend Tony who was training for Kona.  In August, he did a 100 mile bike ride followed by a 1 hour run and a swim.  That night he got into the Chicago Triathlon (never mind how).  The very next day he PR'd for the international distance riding a 58 minute 40km.  Not all athletes can do that.  He was that fit.

I'm looking forward to this swim test.  I'm also looking forward to an easy 4 mile run afterwards.  Hope I get that 'runners high' that comes with consistency.  The more you train... the easier it is to train and the more you WANT to train.  Keep the momentum everyone.  Races are closer than they appear.

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