Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Transitional Season is upon us!

So, my six year old son, Anthony, has been saying over and over how sad he is that ski season is coming to an end! For those of us who are active in winter sports, it's truly bitter sweet that a really great winter season is approaching it's end, while we at the same time look forward to the warm temperatures and long bike rides of the Spring and Summer.

For all of us who focus on our multisports training, this shoulder season also signals a change in our training focus. We move from a base building phase to working on pace and race-specific strategy. Now we start including the appropriate type of interval for our race distance (Tempo, VO2max or LT). Here's a couple of tips that will be important as you make the change:

  1. Know the type of interval that's appropriate, and how to use it in order to get the benefit (e.g. VO2max intervals require that you be at around your VO2max HR for an aggegate of 12 minute minimum to benefit). Doing interval work that is just alternating hard/easy/hard/easy will not get you the bang for the buck that you're looking for.
  2. Progressive is the key. Start at the lower end of the interval minimum and gradually increase the interval as you progress (My friend and mentor, Joe Friel, encourages the use of the Output/Input ratio to measure progress. As the ratio increases, you're making progress. When it levels off, it's time to increase the interval to a higher level).
  3. If a little is good, more is not necessarily better. Interval work is stressful. It's intended to be that way and if it's not, you're not getting benefit. But your body needs to recover from the stress. You get stronger when your resting, not when you're working). Be sure you are getting the right recovery between workouts.
  4. If you can't measure it, you can't manage it! Use metrics from your work to insure progress. The output/input ratio is easy to use. If you're using training software such as Training Peaks or WKO+, you get some valuable calculations provided to you, such as Output/Input, Efficiency Factor (decoupling), Variability Index and so forth. Learn how to use some of these and you'll benefit tremendously in your training!
I (and Anthony) may be among the minority who are sorry to see the winter season coming to an end, but I'm also looking forward to what Spring and Summer have to offer. Have fun...and train safe!


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