I respond well to routine and find once in a routine training becomes so much easier. A little like auto pilot you know what you’re doing each day, there’s a rhythm to it. This is one of the first things I agree with my athletes – a standard week of training that can be achieved week in week out. This rhythm and routine also has the added advantage of fitting in around other commitments (which tend to be regular) and love ones start to work within the routine (sometimes without even realising it) which reduces the stresses on family life. I remember when I was working regular hours people would not organise meetings between noon and 2pm because they knew I liked to run … I’d never asked for this and was always willing to skip the run but no one ever made me make that choice.
Selecting that week of training that can be repeated week in week out can be very difficult. Expectations of what we can achieve in a week tend to be skewed towards the bigger better weeks you’ve done in the past that dominate your memory. A training diary helps so much here as you can get hard evidence of this. Over the years I’ve always had in my mind 15k swimming a week which I think came about from the 3 squad sessions I could attend in London. In practise this was not as easy as I thought so my standard week started to be based off 10k a week. This week should be conservative so you can hit it … it’s good for moral.
It being achievable and repeatable helps get you going each day. Especially once you’re a few weeks in meeting (or bettering … lets not go there) last weeks training for that day / session helps get you out the door.
This has been key for me these past five weeks as I’ve got back into the routine. I know I can do 40, 50 or even 60 hour weeks but my experience that this can never be sustained for more than a few weeks. However, for me high 20 low 30 hours is very achievable. My first target returning from a big break after the European Long Course was consistency. Consistency is key as far as I’m concerned. In my experience it far out weighs big weeks then small weeks. So hitting 30 hours was the aim for 5 weeks then a few bigger weeks before tapering. The graph above shows I managed between 30 and 34 hours every week. Hitting 30 hours tends to be pretty easy as long as I’m focussed. It allows for easy days and the odd missed session. To give an idea of how it breaks down. Most weeks I did the following:
- 13 hrs – 2 x long ride
- 2.5 hrs – long run
- 4 hrs – 2 x gym session
- 4 hrs – swim across 3 or 4 sessions.
The remainder was made up from extra running / extra biking depending on the week. The timing of this has worked great for me as it’s allowed me to focus on other things as well. This time of year is quite busy with many of my athletes having their key races. It’s good to have the extra time available to focus on them. It’s been a pretty successful few weeks for them and I’m confident it will continue in to this weekend. I’ve also had time to sort out my bike and work on building a database for all my training data.
It’s been a funny period though as I’ve felt I’ve been dossing. I’m used to hitting really big weeks and when I’m not it feels like I’m wimping out, it makes me feel like I’m not getting fit … it can hit my motivation. The steady rythm though just helps and after hitting the first week of 30 hours I manage to get myself up and going just to keep the chain unbroken.
An example of how I motivate myself day to day is my approach to gym sessions. I have a few rules I follow:
- My target is 20 reps
- Once I hit 20 reps I increase the weight
- I do 3 sets on each exercise. The number of reps achieved is the minimum of the first two sets, I view the third set as a ‘bonus’
- For each exercise I score +1 if I’ve improved, 0 if same as last time, -1 if I’ve decreased
- Improved means more reps or more weight.
- More reps means the min of the first two sets with the proviso the total number of reps across all 3 sets has to be more than before for it to count. So say I did 12 reps x 3 the previous day then 13 x 2 and 11 reps on the 3rd counts but 13 x 2 and 6 doesn’t
Complicated ?? Sure is BUT thats part of the point. Every single exercise has focus to it, a reason to push further. The total score is used for me to determine the RPE for the session. The picture is my training diary… I even get satisfaction out of filling a page like that ;o)