Saturday, July 27, 2013

Training Approach and Example 'Build' Week

Ok, prepare for me to geek out a bit here on training structure. Feel free to skip if that's not your cup of tea. 

The last few weeks training has been in what Joe Friel calls the 'Build' weeks. At a macro level, here's what my schedule looked like this year:

Lots of Base training during the off season, so I had a decent amount of volume under me heading into mid-March when I officially started 'training'. I also chose an in-between 'on/off' ratio of about 2.5 weeks on with a 4-6 day 'rest period' for a total of 3 week periods. I have tried doing a 3/1 ratio (4 week periods), but as I've gotten older, I find that is really a bit on the edge. Keeping it at 3 weeks but shortening the active rest period really seems to strike the right rhythm and it also keeps me from losing too much fitness as the training 'sinks in' during the rest 'week'.

In short, the Friel defines the macro periods as:
  • Base - focus on aerobic endurance, force and skills training
  • Build - focus is shifted to muscular endurance / anaerobic training
  • Peak - focus is very race specific intensity and cutting volume
  • Race Week - steep rest / taper / keep sharp
  • Transition - recovery from the race
That is extremely simplified. If you're interested in understanding this better and implementing, then get his book, "Your Best Triathlon". It's more to the point than his previous Training Bible (still a good read). I'll also warn you that you have to actually go through the phases to really internalize them. I find myself re-reading the sections on mindset and intent as I enter or re-enter a phase. I've developed a good feel for what each phase should entitle.

My macro-season planning looks like this:

Base (3x3 weeks)
Build (3 weeks)
'B' RACE (Sprint Distance: 2nd AG)
Peak (3 weeks)
Race Taper (1 wk)
'A' RACE (Olympic: 2nd AG)
Transition (1 week)
Build (2x3wks)
Race Taper (1 wk)
'B' RACE (Olympic: 8/17/2013)
Peak (2 wks)
Race Taper Week
'A' RACE (70.3: 9/7/2013)
Transition (2 wks)
.... then either another Sprint or Olympic - or 1/2 marathon with appropriate run-focused training switch... haven't decided yet.. If a friend wanted me to pace them in a marathon, I'd do that instead. Pretty much end of season 'fun' :-)

Lessons Learned:
  • Overall the training cycles and specifics have worked really well for me
  • Need to be better at adding in swim band and TRX training. I get lax
  • Need to be better about foam rolling and stretching
  • Still refining planned 70.3 nutrition - getting close. Been experimenting a lot. Going to try out the Skratch Labs and Osmo Nutrition stuff in the coming weeks to narrow down a hydration mix that works - UCAN isn't a bit chalky for the race for me (but brilliant before hand)
  • I think I need to incorporate VO2 / anaerobic even for long course (70.3). Good advice from reading some Dave Scott stuff on aging athletes
  • Swimming is coming along. I can be competent in the swim now, but not yet 'competitive'. A heavy 'swim focus' winter will put me in the money coming out of the water next year and not suck time out of my bike / run.
Sample Week of Workouts (Build 3 Phase):

Strength: TRX (Core / Upper Body)
Swim: open water (1hr) ~2000m steady aerobic w/accelerations

Bike: (2hrs) 40' WU / 6x8min @Z4 Power - uphill & <80rpm / descent recovery / 30' CD
Swim (1 hr) 20x100 broken into 5 sets of 4x100, all on the same interval, but decreasing rest progression

Bike: (1 hr) Z1 (recovery)
Run: (1:15) 30' WU w/5x20s strides / 5x8min Z3 (tempo) pace w/2min recovery / CD to finish
Swim: (1hr) open water w/team

Run: (1:15) Recovery

Bike (1:30) Mostly Z1 w/5x2min Z6 (hard effort) / 90s recoveries
Swim (1:15) Masters Team

Bike (1:30) Recovery w/skills
Run (2 hrs) WU 10min / 8x9min Z3 (tempo) w/60s recoveries / aerobic Z2 to 2hrs
Immediately follow w/foam roller and stretching

Bike (3hrs) WU 10' / 5x20min @Z3 (tempo) w/4min spin recoveries / Z2 (aerobic) to 3hrs
Run (15min) off the bike w/3x5min @race pace w/60s recoveries
Swim (45min) easy w/skills

Training Time: ~18 hours
Distance (Swim) ~9500yds
Miles (Bike) ~160 miles
Miles (Run) ~38miles
TV Watching = zero hours

So you might be thinking, "Holy crap that's a lot!" - which it is for me too. It's the most heavily loaded period of my training season (which made it worth writing up) and will only last a couple weeks. Normal weeks are more between 12-15hrs per week. Last Build block was probably around 16hrs (guessing).

Also - I don't generally keep track of the totals and the week comes together more based on stringing the workouts together to meet the theme and knowing what my body / recovery can handle. I sometimes will drop a (non-quality) workout or shorten a recovery run if I feel like crap or work goes sideways for a day with some fire raging - without feeling a shred of guilt. I know it's the quality workouts that matter and I know that other stresses need to be accounted for.

Well, we also eat ice cream a lot.
Finally keep in mind. Besides the lack of TV watching, I also don't have any other hobbies - well, I don't have time for them during this part of my season. Paige and I don't really entertain, we don't party, go to concerts - we're pretty boring people to be around during the season (well except we like being around each other ;-). It's family / work / sport - and that's it.

Incidentally - I've thought about writing an article about how to find time to work out. Recently I read that the average American spends an all time high of between 20-34 hours a week watching TV. There you go.

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