Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Seeing Results

Last season, I followed a training program outlined by Joe Friel in his book The Triathlete's Training Bible. It followed a basic structure of periodization training. The phases were Prep, Base, Build and Peak. Joe laid out the workouts pretty well in his book and it was easy to follow. During the Base building phase of his program, there were some long weeks - around 15 hours of training...and this was for a half-ironman distance race. Using this same training program for an Ironman distance race would require some weeks in excess of 20 hours of training. I love training and racing, but I do have priorities. Family time and work (until I turn pro) take precedence over triathlon.

As you know, this season I have decided to follow the training program outlined by Ben Greenfield in his "Triathlon Dominator" package. It involves less long, slow, distance workouts and focuses more on high intensity, low volume training. While this training takes less time, it's definitely no less challenging. There's a good amount of research out there supporting the philosophy behind this type of training - even for long distance races.

As part of this training program, every few weeks I do a test. These tests, one in the water, one running and one on the bike tell me how I'm progressing in the build-up to Ironman. I'm on week 11 of the 36 week Triathlon Dominator program, and I'm seeing some good results already.

After a 500yd warm-up, I swim steady for 1000yd. During this 1000yd time trial (TT), I try to keep my pace as constant as possible, swimming at about an 80% effort. If at any point during this 1000yd it becomes difficult to maintain form, I know that I'm going too fast. I record the total time for the TT and then use this to figure out what my average pace is per 100yd. The goal is to see an increase in my average 100 yard speed, while maintaining the same perceived exertion (PE) level.

Test Results:
1/14/11 - Avg. 100yd time = 1:53 (PE = 7)
1/28/11 - Avg. 100yd time = 1:53 (PE = 8)
3/7/11 - Avg. 100yd time = 1:48 (PE =8)

After a 20-30 minute warm-up, I bump up the intensity and time trial for 40 minutes at a cadence around 80-90 rpm. My pace is hard enough that my legs burn and my breathing labors. The key is to maintain the high cadence for the entire 40 minute TT. I record my average heart rate for the final 30 minutes of the TT. This heart rate becomes my lactate threshold (LT) heart rate. The goal here is to see a decrease in heart rate while maintaining the same PE level. Once the weather warms up, I will be able to take my bike on the road and add the distance component into this test.

Test Results:
12/20/10 - Avg. HR = 165 (PE = 8)
1/27/11 - Avg. HR = 161 (PE = 8)
2/22/11 - Avg. HR = 152 (PE = 8)

After a 10-15 minute warm-up, I run a 30 minute TT at my maximum sustainable pace - legs burning, breathing hard, but not slowing down. Maintaining a steady pace throughout is very important. I record my average heart rate for the final 20 minutes of the TT. This becomes my lactate threshold (LT) heart rate. The goal here is to see an increase in average pace at the same PE and lower HR.

Test Results:
12/21/10 - Avg. HR = 174 (PE = 9), pace for final 20min of TT = 7:29/mile
2/4/11 - Avg. HR = 167 (PE = 9), pace for final 20min of TT = 7:21/mile
3/8/11 - Avg. HR = 164 (PE = 9), pace for final 20min of TT = 7:16/mile

So the results speak for themselves. I've increased my speed and lowered my LT heart rate on each of the three disciplines. The Triathlon Dominator plan is working! Can't wait to see more improvements to my speed and fitness over the next 25 weeks! 

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