Less Is More (Part III)
(Hmm....I see a pattern here)
I was feeling guilty about training less. As usual, I've been diligently analyzing my weekly volume and miles. Since Ironman, I've shifted my focus to speed, which is less impressive since both the mileage and time drop in my weekly stats. Then, I looked more closely...I started assessing how quickly I was getting the miles done. Turns out, part of the reason my weekly time has dropped is that, lo and behold, I've gotten faster. Who would've thunk? Sure, part of the fewer hours is fewer miles but it has also started taking me less time to do the miles I cover. Big sigh of relief. Guess the training is working.
For the first time in my life, I can actually focus on speedwork. Training for the Ironman earned me a huge base. Now, I am building speed without injuring myself or tearing myself down. However, I still find that the increased intensity demanded by the speedwork requires significantly more recovery and rest than I anticipated. I feel fantastic during (and after) my workouts, whether they be 5 trips up Torrey Pines (hill repeats) or an Olympic brick at Fiesta Island (19 mph bike for 16 followed by 33 min run for 4.2) but definitely feel the hang-over effects the following morning. Therefore, I make sure the day following a hard speed day is less intense, more forgiving, and sometimes (gasp) off completely.
So I think I'll let myself off the hook for dropping my volume. Obviously, something is working. Plus, I'm enjoying the increase in muscle mass. My body type is not the kind that holds onto muscle easily. Thanks to my genetic slow-twitch build, I can hit the weight room 3x a week and still look like a string bean. It's kind of fun to see me "bulk up" from the pool and the hills on the bike and the speedwork on the track. It's a little alarming to jump on the scale though--I've gained 4 lbs since IMAZ! Yikes! However, my pants fit the same so I keep repeating to myself that it's muscle. Right?
PS--It's hard not to get super-motivated after watching the Olympic Trials. I can't stay out of the pool. Dara Torres ROCKS!!!
PPS--Oh yeah. And 3 more little words of inspiration: Tour de France!
Tips for Speedwork:
1. Go hard on speed days, really hard. Make sure the overall distance is much shorter than on base-training days.
2. Intersperse easy days with hard days. Never do back-to-back speed days.
3. You may need more rest and recovery than during base training (Shhh. Don't tell anyone but I've been taking Monday AND Friday off lately. Ahh! The insanity!).
4. Don't forget to stretch properly before and after a speed workout. Also, include proper warm-up and cool-downs to avoid injuring muscles.
5. Hydrate and eat properly before and after too. It's hard to do so during a very intense workout. I like to eat ~100-200 cals 1 hr before I hit the track plus take in fluid. Afterwards, I hit the chocolate milk ASAP for speedy recovery.
6. Less is more. Avoid doing more than 2 hard speed workouts a week. If you do a hard track workout 1 week, do a hard swim the next, followed by a hard brick the 3rd week (the 4th is a recovery week--no speed workouts at all, right?).
7. Speedwork is verrry hard on your body and puts you at a higher risk for overtraining and injury. At the first sign of either, back off. Take time off or go back to base training immediately.
Links on Speedwork: