While talking to athletes and during my own training over the last few weeks one golden rule has come up again and again. In my mind it’s probably the most important rule to make all training decisions by. It’s certainly one Ais has driven home again and again.
I mentioned in an earlier post (here) that Aisling is coaching me so you might be wondering what decisions have I to make, surely I should just be doing what I’m told? And you would be right, up to a point. The coach gives the session but the athlete has to then execute it and for most self coached athletes or even those working with a coach there will be times when things don’t go exactly according to plan and we are wondering what to do even if we have a specific session in front of us.
For example, if I’m riding and I have an interval set to do but for whatever reason my body isn’t responding as it should, I might be tired or stressed or starting to head towards over-reaching I will be faced with a decision to make. Do I ignore the messages from my body and push on through the session or should I back off and either finish out the session easy or even stop early.
For me the way to make the decision is to ask myself what effect will either action have on tomorrows and/or next weeks training? For example I might be tired due to lack sleep or stressed out because of problems in work and as a result I’m not able to get my effort level as high as prescribed in the session. In this case I would probably decide that finishing out the training time would be worthwhile but at an easy pace and dropping the intervals. I would get the fitness and possibly the mental benefit of knowing I got my training done but I haven’t stressed the body to a stage that will stop me from training tomorrow or next week.
Training camp enthusiasm:
I’m just back from a camp in Lanzarote so this one is fresh in my mind. There can be an urgency and enthusiasm to cram in as much training as possible right from the start. We are removed from normal life, all it’s stresses, distractions and are here to get fit (often with a sense of panic that it seems like the whole season hinges on this one big week) The danger is that in our enthusiasm to get going we will burn ourselves out in only a couple of days. Cramming in three or four sessions a day for the first few days but not being able to sustain it for the full week is a bad idea. It can often made worse if you then return home still tired and unable to get back to normal training for another week. When planning a training camp we tend to try to build into the week. And more importantly with the massive increase in volume we drop pretty much all intensity. The body can only absorb one stress at a time and there is no quicker way to fry oneself than by loading up on long and hard sessions at the same time.
Week one Superman
I do it all the time, at the start of a training block I’m all rested, fresh and bursting with enthusiasm and can hardly contain myself. In the first week I just want to train every minute of the day that I’m able to and I would except that Ais knows what will happen if I get carried away so she keeps me reigned in. This enthusiasm usually lasts until sometime in the second week at which stage the tiredness hits. It’s often like being driven over by a bus and at that stage I am glad that I listened to Ais when she had me on a leash for the first seven days.
The golden rule regarding every training session for me has to be to take into account the effect what you doing or intend to do today on tomorrows or next weeks training. If by going too hard or too long today you might be too tired to train tomorrow then maybe it’s better to take that into account and temper the enthusiasm today. Consistency in training is key. For Ironman being able to train a lot, day in and day out is what the very best athletes that I know excel at. They rarely fry themselves by “racing” in training and always keep in mind that today’s session could effect tomorrows.
I have written a report examining how 5 of the most successful Irish Ironman triathletes have qualified for Kona an incredible 29 times! You can access it free here.
You can read a little about us how we got into Ironman and how I went from smoker to Kona here
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