This is a reflective time of year for me. The leaves are changing and some of us are winding our seasons down while others are just starting the long buildup for achieving their goals in 2012. I just finished Kona, Sian is heading to Xterra Worlds on Maui this week, Andre is starting to taper for IM Florida, Monzy is wrapping up his preparation for the NY Marathon and Frederic is doing his final tough training for his late November Marathon. Meanwhile, the rest of us are looking forward to next season with high hopes.
I’ve learned to love the rhythm of the training year here in California. I’ve followed a similar pattern since 2005, getting faster each year. Fall means low heart rate training, mild training load, and technique work. Although the training is the easiest of the year it usually brings rapid improvement. Winter means indoor cycling, long lonely runs in the hills, and some challenging work in the pool. For me Spring officially starts at Oceanside. This is when it’s time to head outdoors and do some good long rides and to test my fitness with a couple HIM races. Finally as summer approaches I’m doing my final race rehearsals and tapering down.
Although it might be slightly shifted around for you depending on your goal race date, I encourage you to embrace the seasons of training. Skipping ahead in the cycle seems like a good shortcut, but each season serves a valuable purpose. Many of us are just starting our 2012 season with a 6 (or more) week block of preparation and conditioning. Please don’t short cut or overlook this period. It serves several imporant purposes:
- Make MAJOR improvements in our run and swim technique while the training is mild.
- Put together 6 weeks of training with no injury issues and no deep fatigue. We start off ahead of the game rather than knowing we’re just barely keeping up with the training. By the end of these 6 weeks our connective tissue is toughened up, niggle free, and ready for increased training load.
- Build our power and speed at low heart rates. Although low heart rate training is seen as anachronistic in some circles, it works and it’s also the foundation for the personal success I’ve had in Ironman racing.
- Try something new when the pressure is off. Change our bike position. Learn to do flip turns. START BILATERAL BREATHING. Tinker with big changes in your swim stroke. Try riding on rollers or with powercranks. Change your running form and increase your cadence. (Carefully) try some more minimalist running shoes. Begin strength training for the first time. These are all things that will be difficult once the training ramps up.
- Finally, take care of things in other areas of your life. Tell your significant other that this is their time to make a “wish list” of what they want you to do. Get ahead of the game at work. Invest time in creating systems and getting things set up so that your life runs more smoothly when you need to train more. Meet old friends for food & drinks.