Monday, 15 September 2008

Specifically general...for now

Joe Friel is slowly becoming a good friend of mine, even though we've never met.  His book is proving to be quite a helpful resource, even if it raises as many questions as it answers.  But for the time being, it's helping me determine what to do this winter.

I've been reading through the sections of self-evaluation, periodization and training plan development, and finally that little lightbulb in my head came on.

Mr. Friel states that in the off-season, the athlete should continue to be active but not in ways that are specific to triathlon performance.  By maintaining elevated heart rates throughout the off-season, you won't lose your fitness level (and can increase it) while avoiding burnout and overuse injuries.  As the season approaches, you enter the prep phase and start to return to more triathlon-specific training forms.

With that in mind, I'm going to start returning to an active state and aim to hit 5-6 workouts a week:
  • 2-3 runs a week
  • 1-2 spins/bikes a week
  • 1-2 resistance training sessions a week.
I must admit, it's very refreshing to do whatever I like in training.  But I've been a bit too far on the freedom side of things lately.  :)

Now the focus of that training is what needs to be determined next.  And this is where the self-assessment comes in.  The book asks you to rate (among other things) your swim, bike and run performances with respect to the other competitors.  What better way to do this than from your results in the past year.  I looked at all of my official triathlon results for 2008 (note that the times include the T-Zone times) and plotted them based on my per-sport rank among all of the competitors.  Here's what I came up with.
To be honest, this didn't end up the way I had expected it.  The half-iron lines are what I expected - my swim is relatively strong over 2km, but my bike and run fade fast.  This makes me think that I need to gather more time on the bike as well as run strength to pull my half-iron times in.

But the results for the shorter distances show something different.  In those events, the bike is stronger than the swim and the run.  Now this may be skewed a bit, since I put in a lot of swim training for the half-irons which came after the sprint and Olympic race.  But the run fade is consistent with all the races in 2008.

The chart may also show the different in wetsuit vs. no wetsuit swims.  The Olympic race is the only one I did this year without a wetsuit, and that swim is far off the results of the other three races.

Continuing with this trend, things get a bit more complex, and I'll need to read into these numbers a bit more.  Even though I just did the sprint and Olympic distances for fun this year, I decided to plot my historical performance in each one.  Very interesting charts, I must say.

My historical sprint results don't really show any consistent improvements - the per-sport rankings are scattered all over the place.  The run is the most consistent of the three.

The Olympic results are few and far between, and offer a similar splattering of data points.

But overall, I think that the end result is that I need to pull out some good run-specific strength and stamina this winter.  Not sure how I'll do that yet, but if I can, my times will most certainly improve next year.  Ideally I think that the lines in all these should be flat (or at least flatter), which would indicate a good round set of abilities.  For now, at least, that's my long-term goal.


Cliff said...

If you like Triathlete Training Bible, you should also check out Going Long (

I found that book very useful in training for longer distance tri (Half Iron and up).

The key i found is to learn to run w/ fatigue legs. Even now I still need to work on that....:)

Setanta said...

Another good book recommendation is SERIOUS training for endurance athletes. But I agree, all hail the mighty Joe.