Now that most of us have had time to look back on last season, have a mental/physical break & eat treats that we wouldn't otherwise touch during the race season (ok, during MOST of the season), the question you begin to ask yourself is this: when should my training begin in earnest? Answer: NOW!! Not next week, or for your New Year's resolution, or when things "slow down." Start. Right. Now.
It's easy to look at your upcoming season with ambitious goals. In fact, most of us do. But what we don't want to look at is how to get there. To maximize your potential - isn't that what we all desire? - you need some combination of
1. developing your aerobic engine
2. improving your lactate threshold pace
3. increasing muscular strength
4. maximizing your VO2 limit
5. becoming more efficient
6. perfecting your race nutrition plan
Whew... that's a lot to fit into 16 weeks, yet that's what most magazines put out there for us to read every month. They've led us to believe that if we can do what they say for 4 months we'll have an amazing result. They also say this with no knowledge of YOU, who are, what your injury history is, what your training background looks like, if you have a family...even what gender you are. Unfortunately many people believe these programs are for them. Equally as unfortunate is that these same people will never truly realize their full potential.
To find out what you're capable of it takes more than 16 weeks. It is very difficult to develop your aerobic base while simultaneously doing max interval hill repeats several times a week. Each energy system needs it's own phase of training if it is to be properly grown, and again this takes time. Changes are made over many months, not days or weeks.
Take, for instance, the marathon. For a fit individual it is a realistic expectation that they be able to run the majority of the race in a heart rate zone of 90-95% of their lactate threshold (your lactate threshold is the most important number an endurance athlete can know...contact me if you'd like to know how to find yours!), assuming they don't go out guns blazing at the start & blow up. That's a hard pace, one which you won't be able to maintain with a few months of training. You must first have the raw endurance to be able to run 42.2km in the first place. You must have the muscular strength and endurance to keep your stride length - the second part of the equation, along with cadence, that determines running speed - stable over the duration of the race. Your stomach must learn to be able to digest calories while running at a high pace. You must be able to repeat strong tempo runs in training if you plan on keeping a difficult pace throughout. And last but not least, it takes many months - even years - for some athletes to develop the mental stamina to push through physical & psychological barriers. All of these things are not done in only 16 weeks of training.
This is where you start. Your training begins here. It begins with understanding what exactly you're trying to accomplish, what it takes, and how you're going to do it. It begins NOW. Decide today what your season is going to look like. Are you in for the long haul? If your answer is yes, then let's go. START. RIGHT. NOW.
Check back next week when we dive into the CORE PRINCIPLES to build your training and season on.