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Ladies Tri Night event recap - Train Smarter

Posted Sep 12 2012 3:25pm
(pic taken from Ironmandad.com Branson race report)

In 10 days I will be participating in my 7th half ironman event - Branson 70.3. I am beyond excited that I will be sharing the course with Karel, for his first ever half ironman. We are both ready and feeling strong and we are out to race our competition with our current level of fitness. The goal is to race smart. We are not out for a specific finishing time but instead to be challenged by what the day will bring. In endurance racing it's not about being fast but rather about who slows down the least. No need to make up time or put any time in the bank. 70.3 miles (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) is a long way for the body and whether you like it or not, fatigue is bound to occur. I can only speak about the event based on the course profile and from other reports but it will be a very challenging bike course so the mind and body will need to work well together.....just like we have trained them to do.
(with good nutrition, of course).
This week is a FULL recovery week. As I mentioned before, all the work is done (as of last weekend). We aren't using the word "taper" for "taper" in my opinion, involves intensity. Right now, we are allowing the body to rest, rejuvenate and repair so volume is really low (typical training week for us has been ~13-15 hours a week, this week is around 7 hours). We both took Monday completely off from training and woke up feeling rested (although a bit sore in the legs from the weekend). By Tues, I was feeling really good so I went for an easy 1 hour spin and Karel took another day off. There's a lot of stretching going on and massages are scheduled for Sun (Karel) and Tues (me). Next week we leave on Fri so before then we will be waking up the body with the same type of low volume "training" but adding in a little intensity w/ adequate recovery. This will give the body a little taste as to what will come on Sept 23rd but without the residual fatigue that comes with periodized training.

At the Ladies Tri Night event on Monday, I dedicated the middle third of my talk to a topic that I have learned to embrace this year. In having my best season ever, I can contribute most of my athletic success this year (which in turn, translates to my athletes having individual success as well) coming from training smart.
For many people, there's the basic understanding that if you want to get faster or reach  PR, you just have to train more. It's all about volume.
After removing my stubborn hat a few years ago (pre IMWI '10), I started to recognize the balance, fun and consistent progression that comes from training smart. Or as I like to say, quality training.

So, do you train smart?

ØDo you know the difference between training and an active lifestyle?
ØIs your training/exercise schedule flexible to fit your lifestyle?
ØDo you respect your body when you are injured or fatigued?
ØIs counting miles the only way you feel accomplished?
ØDo you feel guilty if you miss a workout? Are you able to schedule intentional rest/recovery days?
ØDoes a number on a scale or food intake determine your daily training volume and intensity?
ØDo you find yourself comparing your training/exercise routine to others?
ØIs your current training and diet routine working for you?
ØHave you ever raced injured, just for a t-shirt and medal?
ØDo you feel it is normal to experience severe cramps, dehydration, extreme fatigue, lack of appetite, extreme weight loss (or gain) and brain fog, just because you are training for a race, exercising for fitness or racing to a finish line?

ØAre you having fun?

It's not necessary to fit into every category but hopefully the questions (and your responses) will make you think about your current training (and perhaps, diet) regime and if it is working for your body, your personal life and your athletic goals. You may think that your current training routine is working for you but take my word, it is possible to gain fitness and improve performance by focusing more on quality over quantity. It's not just about the miles and burning calories.

If there was one word I could suggest for athletic individuals, the word would be: CONSISTENCY
You do not achieve goals in life on one day. Goals require hard work, dedication, patience and time. If they don't, they likely aren't seen as major life accomplishments.
oLife changes frequently. Your eating and training routine should also change to allow you to be as consistent as possible at this point in your life. In order to receive the most prominent physiological adaptations to the body with the least amount of training stress, train smart by focusing on consistency.
 
To help you out, I've created several tips for both fitness enthusiasts and athletes to start training smarter and more consistently. It's not rocket science but it does take a lot of strength. Understanding that athletes improve by putting stress on the body and then recovering, it doesn't surprise me that athletes get so caught up in the training and the miles with the rapid increase in endurance events. Whether it is fear of the distance and you feel you need to prove something to yourself in training (? - what if you can't do that 20 mile run that you squeezed into training 2 weeks out from race day, because you got too tired last weekend during your 16 mile run....what then?) or worry that you will gain weight during taper, athletic events (like tri's and running races) require a body that is trained, recovered and well-fueled. You can only beat the system for so long until you end up with an overtrained body or an injury. Additionally, it isn't a contest as to how little you can consume nutritionally, in training. What you may feel is normal or OK, perhaps should be addressed with a qualified professional, specializing in sport nutrition and/or exercise physiology. CONSISTENCY TIPS:
1) Get a massage and stretch before you badly need it.

2) Fuel consistently during workouts, before you feel tired and fatigued.
 
3) Prioritize nutrition before and after workouts, before you find yourself struggling with recovery.

4) Prioritize your nutrition throughout the day to compliment your intense/long daily training regime rather than obsessing about your intake on your "off" or lighter days.

5) Don't strive for a race weight but rather a strong body that will perform optimally by x-day.
6) Don't wait until taper (or rest week/day) to feel "normal" again. Find balance now.

7) Don't "rest" an injury/pain after a workout. Address normal vs. not-normal aches on a daily basis and seek help before it gets worse.

8) Don't just train hard and "rest" unintentionally – when you badly need it. Consider intentional rest days long before you actually need them.

9) Respect and thank your body for what it allows you to do on a daily basis.

10) Have fun, trust yourself and be confident. Don’t rush the journey.  Always keep in mind that if you are an athlete, training for an event finishing line, you will always need to appreciate daily exercise, just like the "normal" people in this world. You don't have to train for an Ironman or run marathons to be healthy, fit and well. Daily exercise can do wonders for the mind, body and soul and best of all, most of the time, it is free!! Ever tried that thing called walking?? You can find it right outside your front door or office and it doesn't require a membership fee.   EXERCISE TIPS:1.Think like a kid - have fun!
Have you ever seen a child with a garmin while playing tag? Isn't it funny how so many athletes have to get to x-miles or x-time before the workout is officially complete. I challenge you to run or bike to a destination or to just stop when it feels right.
2.Focus on the little things – skills, sleep, strength, nutrition
3.Step outside your comfort zone
4.Set goals and track progress
5.Start slow, have a plan
6.New stuff – clothing, gadgets, location
7.Involve others for motivation
8.Time-focused or break it up
9.Use perceived exertion and/or effective tools
10.Make it a priority – when is the right time for you?
*BONUS TIP*: Daily prescription and long term health investment    
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