Finally I need to get back in to training. Following Ironman Florida I had my most comprehensive end of season break since starting in Triathlon. I stopped weighing myself, stopped taking my resting HR, didn’t give a hoot about what I ate or drank and I never forced myself to train. This culminated in a thoroughly enjoyable Christmas and New Year racking up numerous back-to-back zeros.
Now I feel thoroughly untrained and almost back to square one. It’s as if I’m starting my triathlon career all over again.
Starting out in triathlon a good first step is to just get out and train. No need to worry about all the fancy jargon; periodisation, FTP, intervals, threshold, heart rate zones or whatever the current fashion is. In general doing something is better than doing nothing. This means getting out the door and putting your body under some sort of stress. Go with the flow, if you’re tired rest, if you’re feeling good crank it.
That’s how I started in my triathlon career and this phase probably culminated in 2007 with completing 100 hundred mile rides in the year. This resulted in, probably, my best ever Ironman performance and my discovery of Eddington Numbers. Just getting out there and doing works. It doesn’t matter what motivates you (for me it’s statistics).
The next step tends to be trying to get a little bit more structured. Perhaps you get a heart rate monitor, a power meter. Perhaps you start doing some intervals, start thinking about recovery, nutrition and even training stress. Training stress attempts to measure the stress on your body of a given session. It removes the focus from time, distance or speed and instead gives you a comparable figure. It makes you think – you can get the same stress from short and hard verses longer and slower – it’s not just the amount of stress but making sure you get it in an appropriate manner for your goals.
After this the final step seems to be all in with the modelling. I started doing this a few years ago when I started using Raceday Apollo (RDA). This is a wonderful piece of software that allows you to calculate your training stress and the model your response to stress. You have to to tests to work out your thresholds to accurately measure training stress and then you have to do tests to calibrate the model to fit your personal response to training in each of the disciplines.
This gives a whole new level of interest (if you like the numbers) and it’s great when you’re returning to fitness after your end of season break. You not only feel you’re getting fitter but you see it in your test results and you see it in the training stress graphs.
As I start my journey back to fitness I now follow the above progression but sped up. The priority in the first few months is to just get out and train. I ditch my power meter and heart rate monitor hop on my fixed and just go with the flow. Whatever it takes to get me out, meet friends, head to a favourite coffee shop or set some silly statistical target. Often it can be as simple as racing against the previous January. The benefits accrue very quickly when you’ve years of training logged.
Unlike when I was a triathlon novice the next steps are introduced quickly. At first it is out of necessity – bad weather can push you on the turbo and it’s a pretty boring task without intervals. Also I need to build a useable model in RDA, which requires regular testing. In these first few weeks they are the sessions that will hurt most. After a few months this should provide me with base miles and a decent model, which will hopefully help me to some decent performances in the summer.