It’s a busy and sometimes stressful time of year. Everyone wants something done before Christmas, you may have more family/social commitments, and it can be tricky to balance everything. Keeping consistent in your training can be hard work, but if you know how to scale a workout down, then things can become more manageable.
First you need to know if your workout is a key session or not. If you are only doing 2 sessions in each triathlon discipline, then its safe to say that both sessions are key sessions. If you have more sessions then it may be worth checking which ones are key.
If you can only fit in key sessions then you may need to scale them down. This is how I would recommend doing it.
Scaling workouts to fit in with busy lives
Hopefully, you can keep the whole warm up in. It’s an important part of your session, which prepares your body and mind for training. If you are going to be working at threshold, then add some work building up to the level you will be working at. Don’t expect your body to just kick in to threshold work, you need to prepare a bit. If you need to do any activation work, to get your body used to the movement patterns, then now is the time. If you do have to shorten your warm up, then make sure it is still at least 10 minutes long, and if you skip the build work, then expect your first few intervals to be a bit off.
Lets say the main part of your session is intervals and you didn’t build to the interval intensity in the warm up then use the first few intervals to build up to that level. If you did warm up thoroughly, then complete as much of the main session as you can. This is the key bit of your workout. When your session is an endurance session e.g. all at one pace, then you may just need to cut the session short.
If you have time for a short 5 minute cool down, then great. If you don’t, then don’t worry about it, but avoid spending the rest of the day in one position. For example, seated at a desk. However if you do find yourself in this position then try to get up and move around every 20 minutes or so, and try to find time to stretch at some point in the day.
Below I have an example of how you could scale down the swim session shown, in order of priority.
Remove cool down
Shorten or remove build set
Shorten warm up
Shorten main set
This advice will help you to gain the most from your training sessions at this busy time. Enjoy the holiday season, and stay healthy!
How do you know if you are training in the right zones? It may look confusing but it is actually quite simple. If you have done some testing then you should know roughly where your threshold is for all 3 disciplines.
If I was coaching you, I would give you sessions based on the paces shown in the chart below. You may not always be able to hold the effort level, but it is a goal for you to aim for.
RPE chart, used as a rough guide to help you get to know how hard you need to be working.
When starting out it can be useful to have numbers to go on, and they give me, as a coach, some useful data to look at after you have done a session. As you improve, you will get to know roughly how hard you are working, and you can focus on executing the interval more on feel. This is particularly the case if you are using heart rate as a guide, as we know that many factors can cause it to fluctuate.
I often find athletes worrying about what their heart rate is doing in a session. If is was lower than last time, or higher than last time. As long as you are performing the session to the best of your ability then don’t stress about it. Check in with your breathing and don’t go chasing a higher heart rate if it feels right then it probably is!
The most important thing is to know how your effort “feels” for each particular intensity, so, as you do the session, make sure that you check in with what your breathing is like, and how you are feeling. You need to know that for racing, so you can focus and be present in the race. The other bonus of doing this is that if you don’t have power/heart rate on the day it doesn’t matter!
Stick to the plan? I am a great believer in plans, but sometimes unexpected things crop up that are not part of the plan. I have had a few of these this year, and how you react to these unexpected “challenges” are what makes you you. We can learn a lot about ourselves by observing how we react in these situations. If the way we react is harming us in some way then hopefully we can change in order to develop and grow.
My year I have not had the best year this year. The plan was to have an easier year doing 2 half Ironman distance races with a view to doing Ironman Wales again in 2016. I planned my season around my A race The Wales Triathlon. I was feeling pretty good, I had accepted my DNF at The Titan, (you can read about that here) and improved my FTP by 10 watts this year, a goal I had set myself last year. A week ago I was in the sea with my boys and I jumped over a wave and landed on a stone that impacted in to the arch of my foot, it hurt quite a bit at the time but I thought it was ok, and stayed in the water. When I got out I could hardly walk up the beach. My mum drove me home, and I tried to convince myself that it was fine and it would be ok in a few days. I iced it and rested. The next day I went out on the bike, tried to run and couldn’t so rested again. On Sunday I did a brick session. I ran for 20 mins and felt fine, On Tuesday I tried to run again, no chance, and exactly a week later, my ankle was still swollen and foot hurting. Throughout the week I have had many different thoughts in my head. First feeling I needed to stick to my plan and watching my fitness on the decline as my taper did not go as planned. Then realising that I couldn’t run, so maybe I could just do the swim and cycle, and then feeling like not doing any of the race, but entering a race at the end of September, as I didn’t know if I could face starting a race knowing I wouldn’t be able to finish. I decided it was time to get my foot looked at!
I went in to A&E, the nurse examined it and confirmed my initial thoughts that it was just a bruise on the bottom of my foot that had caused soft tissue damage. This had been aggravated by me continuing to try and train. I told her I had a race the next day and had been training all year for it, and she said that if I did do it then to expect it to swell up again after. So I went away still in 2 minds.
After a lot of thought I decided that I wouldn’t race, my heart just wasn’t in it, I couldn’t run on my foot anyway, (too painful and would cause too much damage) so I would have been going in for just the swim and cycle. My husband has also had health issues the past few weeks and we are dealing with the stress and anxiety associated with that too, so I feel that the stress of not finishing another race may have been too much for me.
How I got my head round it
It is so hard to make decisions like this, especially when your whole season has been geared towards something that you had expectations of. I was really hoping to do well in this race, and my fitness is at a peak, so I have had to let go of that fitness, and my expectations from the race. I have had to accept the decision that I have made, and believe that it was the right one to make, there is always next year, and I have goals for that too.
I have entered The Snowman which is at the end of September so that at least I complete a triathlon this year, my fitness won’t be what it is now because I had planned to have the summer off training, so we have a few camping trips booked, and I won’t be able to train as much, but I’m looking forward to the race and I’ll be going up with Patrick for the weekend without the kids so we get to spend some time together too.
It is important to be adaptable and able to change your expectations.
Remember the positives from the season, if you are in Triathlon for the long term then you have still benefitted from any things that didn’t go exactly as planned, endurance builds up over years so the training that you have done in one year adds to the next years training.
Accept any obstacles that come your way, the sooner you do this the less energy you will waste fighting against an uncontrollable, accept what has happened, you can’t change it, and make a decision that you feel happy with, then stick to it.
Enjoy it, there is always another goal out there for you, and sometimes things are sent as a wake up call to check how much you really want your goal.
Don’t underestimate other factors in your life, you may feel that your stress at work or in your family has nothing to do with triathlon, but any stress impacts on your life and affects your ability to train and race.
Wow what amazing weather we have been having. It makes it so easy to train and motivate yourself when there is sunshine, and it also makes it easy to get over enthusiastic and overtrain. Sometimes training gets tiring, and its difficult to know if you should take a break, or keep pushing on. I think most of us know when we need to take a break, but we can also sometimes get attached to our training plans (guilty) and feel that we need to tick off everything that we have set ourselves to do. It is useful to keep track of your training then you can see what you have been doing and there is evidence to show that you may have been overdoing it. I use training peaks which gives me a TSS (training stress score) which is explained here. This explains why I’m feeling tired at the moment, and had to abandon my turbo session! Training is stress that we put on our body, and it is good to do this, if we didn’t then we wouldn’t get faster or fitter, BUT if you don’t rest and recover then the body does not have time to repair itself and your performance either stagnates, declines, or in the worst case scenario you get to the stage when your life is negatively affected by your overtraining. If you need more recovery time your body will let you know, you just need to listen and be observant if you have any of these signs.
You feel sluggish and tired for consecutive days
You lack motivation to complete workouts
You can’t sleep even though you are tired
You get ill more often
There are a lot more symptoms of overtraining which can easily be found if you google them, remember though that everyone is unique. We all have different tolerances for training loads and recovery times, so what might work for your friend will not necessarily work for you. There are ways to monitor how recovered you are by checking your heart rate in the morning, amongst other things. I will leave it for the experts to explain here. Don’t underestimate the power of good quality sleep, and staying hydrated. Recovery is taking care of yourself. Sometimes we can be our own worst critics, if you catch yourself beating yourself up about missing a session or feeling tired then listen to what you are telling yourself and ask if you would talk to someone else in that way? It is important to nourish yourself with positive words and by allowing yourself recovery time. It is not a weakness, and can make you stronger in the long run.
I have been busy at the computer again this week, after an epic ride with 4 of the Pembrokeshire Velos to receive my plaque for winning the 100 mile time trial. I met them at Kilgetty at 6:30am and rode 71 miles up to Resolven. I managed to hold on to their wheels for most of the way, but during the last hour I kept getting dropped! Considering I hadn’t been out for longer than an hour and a half since Ironman on the bike, I was pretty pleased. They had cycled from Pembroke Dock and ridden 83 miles in total. I was a bit annoyed that my garmin wouldn’t download to Strava afterwards as I’m sure I would have had a few QOM’s!!
The full trip, I was there too honest!
Strength and Conditioning
I have been putting together some videos for my coached athletes, which has taken up quite a bit of my time, I am aiming to show exercises that can be done easily at home without equipment. Hopefully they will find them useful!
I’m starting to get itchy feet and have started to plan for next season. However I’m still very busy allowing myself to get unfit! But have managed to get my plan for next year down on paper. Colour coded of course! I have entered The Titan, middle distance triathlon, and I am planning on entering The Wales Triathlon. I have also entered The Wiggle Dragon ride media fondo, which is the weekend before The Titan, maybe not great planning, but got a little bit carried away with the wiggle fever on Facebook. At least its all local stuff, so not too much travelling involved.
The year ahead
A bit of social riding
I thought it was time I went out with the dynamos again, but had to be home by 10.20, as Devon had rugby. I left at 8.30am so I could get a bit of an extra ride in before meeting at the Bloomfield at 9am. Unfortunately I forgot to start my garmin when I started out with the club, had a good chat with Kim before I had to head back home, and thought I would give a good blast up Coxhill to try and beat my time up there on Strava, how frustrating when I got home and realised that I had forgotten to start my garmin!
A few weeks before a race I start thinking “If I had……. it would make my life better” Cue ordering unnecessary stuff. I have so far accumulated energy drink, gels, tyres, and new gloves. The energy drink I won’t use as I haven’t used it in training, the gels I will use, as I have had them before (but I accidentally ordered 3 lots!) and the gloves are not as nice as my old ones. However I did need new tyres.
Moral of the story, “new things will not make me faster”, (repeat, repeat, repeat)
Crazy cooking woman
I also get obsessed with cooking, and have started making yummy things to take on the bike, which I have blogged about here. I did just read in Tri220 that Chrissie only has energy gels, drink, and some dark chocolate on the bike and can’t understand how anyone can eat sandwiches etc on rides, as she is working too hard. “Must try harder on the bike”, (repeat, repeat, repeat) Anyway I made the most of the fantastic weather and sat out on the lawn to calculate my intake of food for the bike leg, and have now planned out what I am taking.
Like summer again!
Time to take stock
So its time now to reflect on what I have done up to this point and hope that I have a good day next week. I feel ready, but also still wondering if I have planned my peak and taper right, (need to get rid of a few gremlins here!), We will see on race day. I will give it my best.
Just when I thought I was getting somewhere I caught a cold again. I was coughing all last week, feeling crap. I have adjusted my training again, so I won’t be hitting the targets for Half Outlaw. I’ll just have to use it as a practice race, I haven’t had the run volume or consistency in training that I would have wanted so we’ll see what happens. I am building up my running very slowly. Last week I did a 40 minute and 30 minute run, so not too bad! The 40 minute was another risk assessment for run club. Is dog poo a hazard?
Risk assessing again!
Time Trial bike fit
I went back to see Andy at Cranc Cyclesports to get my Trek fitted properly. Again I was really pleased with the results. I went out after recovering from the cold and was comfortable. There was no pain in my shoulders or back, as there has been in the past. You can see why on the pictures below too!
Retul fit at Cranc cyclesports
Really enjoyed being out on the bike after a week off, the positive of that was I managed to do a bit of bike maintenance that I have been putting off for a while on my mountain bike. I was so excited at the results that I went off road for the first time in ages. I thought that I had better have at least 1 off road ride before the Dyfi Enduro, which is in 4 weeks, Mountain bikes are so heavy!!
First ride in new position on Time Trial bike
Even managed a couple of QOM’s off road, not much to write home about though!!
I have recently decided to try to simplify my life a bit by not downloading everything to Strava. It has also coincided with a long break from training due to illness, so I have had more time to think about the pro’s and con’s. I found another feature the other day, where there is a leader board for clubs, so that you can see how you stack up against other people in terms of distance, time, etc. This is one of the reasons I dislike Strava. I find myself constantly comparing myself to others, which I am trying to do less of! So here goes my list of positives and negatives
It allows me to compare my efforts and power data for a certain segment, or hill climb.
My record, while being chased by a dung laden tractor.
2. I quite like the social side of having been out on a ride with others, it shows up that you had a ride with someone, and also allows you to comment on peoples rides. (I do have friends really!!)
3. You can see where you are compared to others, however there is a limited women’s pool on Strava.
1. If you compare yourself to others on Strava you don’t know what the conditions were like, so you are not comparing like for like, they also may have been time trialling while you were on a long ride.
2. Sometimes people can comment negatively on your ride/feed.
3. If you look at what other people are doing it can cause anxiety about not doing enough.
If used wisely it can be fun to use. My husband has just recently entered some of the challenges on there, which got him out riding more than he would normally, so it can be good at motivating people.
I have started making my rides private, then I can still see my results and where I stack up, but I will probably not download everything, ultimately its something else to distract me from other stuff that I should or want to be doing, and I use Training peaks for analysis of data so I don’t really need another programme. However it did show me that I set a personal record on a section of road to Marros, and would have picked up a queen of the mountain had my ride not been private, while being chased by a tractor pulling s**t, maybe I should visualise that in future races 😉
Don’t know which is worse, being behind or ahead of one of these.
I began a baking frenzy last week, making cakes picture here and then ordering new cook books after going to a friends birthday and feeling inspired.
Adding to my collection.
I used a trip to Caldey island with the in-laws to try out a recipe from the feed zone book, and made some pancakes with spring onions in. They were very tasty and enjoyed by everyone. Have ordered some mochi flour, corn flour, and black glutinous rice, to make more snacks, I haven’t used the clandestine cake book yet, but made chocolate buns out of my bread book for the boys.
My attempts at food photography.
This then got me thinking about trying to photograph food, so I have another book on its way…..watch this space! Oddly I saw this article in Total womens cycling just after I wrote this post about DIY nutrition.
I did the Bangeston 10 on Wednesday and used it as an opportunity to try out my rice cakes, after bonking the other week on the way home. I had one before I left, and then had a waffle and some homemade sesame snaps before I rode home, (didn’t bonk)
I posted a PB by 1 second!!! Remembered to press my lap button for a change. I was number 13 and had a near miss on the roundabout on my warm down, as a white pick-up pulled out in front of me.
Power for Bangeston 10
The dip in the middle is the roundabout, where someone overtook me, I tried to drop back a bit so as not to draught. Starting to feel a bit stronger, and slowly building my fitness back up, before the Welsh Championships in Abergavenny at the weekend
Beginning to pick up again
Womens sport in the media
I read this in the i (newspaper) last week and was flabbergasted. I have read something similar before. I think it was a man saying that Chrissie Wellington didn’t “win” Ironman Hawaii because men had beaten her, it sparked off a big online debate about physiology, and somebody replied with a very good analogy between boxing weight classification, and asked, would you put a heavyweight boxer against a welterweight? On the plus side there were some women promoting the European U19 women’s football championship, Wales v France next week! Have some free tickets so may take the boys:-)
I almost can’t believe this letter is serious.
Can you believe this letter!
Belated Mountain Biking
I promised my husband I would put a link to his mountain biking video in so here it is! Probably didn’t do it before as there is footage of me being a wuss!!
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