Happy Thanksgiving everybody, and all that followed me throughout the triathlon season.
With all the great food that we were thankful to have this weekend I'm sure that most of you are itching to get back into the gym.
For those of you that had a busy triathlon and/or running season this is the time of the year that we gear down some what, and take the foot off the gas for a little while anyways.
Let's be honest here. For anyone that has trained at a high level of not only commitment, but effort also, you need this break.
Now I'm not saying take off three or four months, but a break from that structured training just might be the difference between you improving upon your PB's, or not achieving them next year.
It is extremely hard to train at an intense level for long periods of time (trust me I've tried), especially when your next big race is more than 20 weeks away.
Instead, after a short hiatus or trip to Florida, get back into the swing of things by incorporating these three sessions into your structured, unstructured training plan.
These are longer type workouts that are usually performed at a pace that is 20-30 heart beats below your lactate threshold heart rate(AKA all out effort). For those that have a heart rate monitor (see my earlier article) this would be Zone 2.
These workouts help to improve heart, lung and blood function which helps to build that great base that next years training will be built upon. It also trains your muscles to depend on fat stores for fuel, and improve the efficiency of slow twitch muscle fibres (which pretty much allows you to workout and race longer).
The best time of the year to improve your overall strength is the off-season. Even after a great race season it is easy to reflect on where things could of been better(this is where keeping a good training journal is key).
Now before you start grabbing the huge dumbbells to show everyone how tough us triathletes are, take a healthy dose of reality. We have raced all season, and if you haven't lifted any weights in that time, you will need to give your body a couple of weeks to a month to get used to lifting weights.
This stage of weight training is called Anatomical Adaptation, and is an effective way to encourage the brain and muscles to interact and learn how to move well during resistance exercises.
Other ways of improving strength over the three disciplines (swimming, biking and running) is to implement situations that create a lot of resistance. Using paddles or a parachute in the pool, running or biking hills, or big gear riding.
Make sure that these exercises are done at an aerobic pace, as this is not the time to race.
These are skills that are best described as the ability to move efficiently and effectively at a high cadence. Anyone can pedal a bike at 55rpm in a low gear, but ask that same person to pedal that same bike 100rpm in a higher gear takes some training and dexterity as well.
This can be applied to swimming and running, and we accomplish this by doing drills that accentuate proper form over and over again so that its engrained into our second nature.
Drills, I know I know how boring! We grew up playing sports that had drills, and all we wanted to do was play. No one ever told us why we do them, just that we had to. I personally love doing drill sets, and whenever possible I incorporate them into my training. Not only do they teach the body proper form, but get your body warmed up for a main set or they can also be used to cool down as well.
Keeping in mind that this is the off-season, enjoy this base phase and reap the benefits of working on some weaknesses to have the best race season ever in 2015.
Until I meet you at the start line, train safe and have fun!!