Its April and races are starting. However, many of you are way behind in training and the thought of a race makes you shake your head. ”there is now way I am ready to race right now.” Heard that before. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for being is this situation, the question is,
What do I do Now?
There are lots of things an athlete can do (and not do) to come from behind in the game of race preparation. This is a place where the uneducated and ego driven athletes get discouraged and often injured and the smarter more self-confident ones come from nowhere to have a great year. This situation doesn’t have to be after a long layoff of training it happens to everyone at the start of ones off season training at one level or another. So whether you have been out of the country for 6 months, finally got the kids in grade school or spent the winter skiing instead of your normal treadmill and indoor interval sessions here is the way to get back to your former glory.
I often tell my athletes “worry about the things you can control. Not the stuff you can’t”
There are 3 areas of your preparation you can control and utilize in a way to be at your best in no time.
Your intensity during a workout is something you can control 100% almost all of the time. You have 20 gears (22 now for some) gears on your bike USE THEM! You can walk if you’re a runner. It’s OK you’re not a bad person if you walk a bit. This is where you need to take a very objective and real look at yourself. Don’t worry about your power or pace. Relax. I always tell my athletes “you must race with what you have right now, at this moment, not what you had last week, not what you had last year, not what you want to have.” The same thing goes with training.
This is the time to go by feel and Heart rate. This initial phase of training should be focused on repetition. Re-training the neurological system to do your sport of choice. The more pedal strokes you get in the better at this point. One way we can get in lots of volume is to back off on the intensity. This is the basis of long slow distance training (LSD). For you wattage and number geeks play around with TSS and how you feel afterwards. All TSS is NOT created equal. Compare how you feel after a very easy ride of 200 TSS. It will take a few hours so block off the day, see how you feel after. Now compare that with how you feel after a ride of 200 TSS from a race, long hard group ride or hard hilly ride. It’s a bit different.
So, simply put, back off! Focus on form and efficiency. The power and speed will come back quickly but you must be patient.
“I am just getting back into training on the bike again you want me to do huge amounts of volume? That doesn’t make sense?!?” Yes it does. First “train with what you have” so redefine huge. I’m not suggesting you get back at the volume you had during the biggest weeks last year. I spoke with a triathlete a few weeks ago regarding getting back into running this summer after a winter of minimal run time. I was overheard by 2 people. One of them heard me recommend the athlete run every day. The other heard to not run more than 30 minutes. They both heard correctly just not the whole story. By keeping the duration shorter than normal (for you) we can reduce the amount of stress we put on the body, let it recover before we go out again, in 24 hours or so. We want to go just long enough to get an adaptation but not so long we over load the system risk getting injured or digging a hole with extreme fatigue.
So shorten your duration to something manageable to your level of sport specific fitness for where you are at NOW, not last year, not where you want to be, but right now. Leave the ego at home, save it when you really need it.
Ok now you are really lost. I just told you to lower your intensity so you could do lots of volume and then said to shorten your training sessions. How are you supposed to do that?
By being very consistent with your training short workouts add up fast. If you ride 90 minutes a day for 6 days that’s 9 hours of riding! A 30’ run doesn’t seem like much to an experienced runner or triathlete but 6 days of that means 3 hours of running that week and that full day off to recover nicely and start up again next week will have tackling another consist week.
Consistency is king! I have said this many times. In my last article here on training peaks. And The webinar on winter training . And I’ll say it again. Any training you cannot do consistently is rarely worth doing. So you crushed yourself on the sat group ride. “oh man, I have lots of work to do” yep you do and by the looks of salt crusted on your shorts and drool coming down your face I’s guess you won’t be doing any ”work” tomorrow.
By controlling and lowering our intensity we can be more consistentwith our training and get in that volume we need to rebuild a strong neurological system and the muscle memory we need to be back at our best without injury or other over training symptoms.
See you at the races!