This article is the final article in our Prep and Conditioning Trilogy. More than any other period of training, the prep period requires the most brainwashing on my part to convince athletes to keep the heart rate low and to keep things mild for a few weeks. In the last article I discussed what I’m doing in my prep period in 2011. And in another article I asked my athletes to embrace the seasons of training (especially this one!) If you’re not brainwashed by now, I give up!
We start off the season with a few week of preparation an conditioning and the training load should feel pretty light as we get our connective tissue ready, injury proof ourselves, improve our technique and build our lower aerobic endurance. You should be feeling refreshed after each workout, no stressed. Enjoy it while it lasts and be patient and follow along with the plan and rest assured things will get much tougher soon enough!
This period’s goals include:
1. Preventing Injuries and Toughening Up Your Connective Tissue. This is a good time to prehab and prevent injures. The easiest way to prevent injury? Start your training conservatively and give your connective tissue plenty of time to toughen up. It won’t be long until we are adding much more volume and you don’t want to start your volume ramp with nagging problems already! Remember that your engine will get strong faster than your connective tissue. At some point your engine (legs and lungs) will feel read to rip it up, but hold back until I give you the green light! Don’t short cut this process!
2. Establish Lower Aerobic Power & Get Fast At Low Heart Rates. This time of year is the only time we have the luxury to focus only on your steady zone and on your cadence. We’ll take advantage of this luxury to help you develop the ability to produce more power and speed at lower heart rates. Those who have never disciplined themselves to train at low heart rates before will probably find that you are quite weak at low heart rates, but give yourself a few weeks to build a more powerful aerobic engine and you’ll go much faster at lower heart rates (hint: this is probably the #1 key for IM success, but it improves performance at all distances). For your steady workouts, set your heart rate alert (if you have one) for 3-4 beats above the bottom of steady (aka AeT) and ease off when your watch beeps. You might get lots of beeps at first, but once you are conditioned it will be much harder to get your heart rate to go up!
3. Improve Your Technique. While load is low and you have more time it’s a perfect opportunity to work on technique. Early in the season we have no performance expectations in our workouts so it’s ok to “go slower” in order to clean up your up your technique.
- focus on pedaling smoothly, even at high cadences (adventurous athletes might want to do some workouts on rollers)
- do LOTS of drilling in the pool and swim with meticulous form, establish bilateral breathing
- clean up your running form with drills and practice proper posture, technique and keeping a cadence of 90+
4. TCB (Take Care of Business.) Take care of other things in life NOW to free up time for when your training starts to take up more time and energy (e.g. honeydo list, home projects, work projects). Spend extra time with family and friends, and keep your significant other happy.
5. Start Weight Training. If you are going to hit the weights this year, this is the time you need to start (when training gets tougher you don’t want to be dealing with the initial soreness of starting a weight training program!)
6. Lose Weight. It’s tough to find the balance between trying to lose fat but also eating enough to stay fueled once you are training seriously. But this time of year our training is mild enough that you can get away with “going on a diet.” Just be careful not to get all the way down to race weight– having your body fat too low is bad for your immune system and recovery!
For more details and ideas about preparation and conditioning, read what I’m doing in my prep period in 2011 or embrace the seasons of training (especially this one!)