Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Winning your workout

One of the ongoing jokes amongst my training partners is that "training is not racing".  And we all know culprits who are guilty of this.  I'll even fess up that I've been guilty. (*shhhh* don't tell my coach!)

You know the ones.  It's the guys (or gals) that go out at 120% FTP from the get go on long rides, gassing themselves so badly that when time comes for the "work" part of the workout that they are hanging off the back and barely functional.  

It's the runners that seem to misunderstand that a "conversational pace" means that, yes, you can actually hold a conversation.  Gasping for breath between words, for instance, is not a conversational pace.  And, unless you are pretty elite, I'm guessing that 4 minute kilometers are not your recovery run pace.

And, it's the swimmers fail to understand how a pace clock works.  For example, if the drill set calls for 10 x 50 done on 1:00, then it should take (drum roll please)....10:00!  Even if you swim the set faster (which, is really not the point of drills to start with but I digress), it's still 10 x 50 on 1:00 and it should take...10:00!  It's very simple math, really.

So you get the picture.  Yet, as much as I express amusement (and at times, dismay) over the exploits of these speedy souls, it's quite unfortunate that they don't get the point.  Dude, you didn't kick my a**....you kicked your own self square in the derriere!

A key attribute of a successful athlete is the ability to carry out a workout within the expectations of the workout. And, more often than not, those successful athletes are guided by incredible coaches who understand this concept.  The only way to "win" in training is to execute on plan.

My coaches - Bjoern and Dale - are athletes themselves and I trust them to guide me in the right direction. They have experience and knowledge that far surpasses mine, and they have spent years developing workouts designed for specific purposes. They know what the appropriate combination of work and rest is, and what mix of volume, intensity and technique will achieve the desired goal for the session, week, training block and season.  There is a greater purpose for each mile repeat or swim set than simply killing it....and I trust that when my coach tells me to do something, that he knows best.

My underlying expectation in all coached workouts, therefore, is that I will complete the workout as it was intended. Coaching, after all, is a science....and failing to follow the plan is usurping the entire process. Every well-designed workout has a goal - whether it be intensity, endurance, volume, technique - and it is achieving that goal on any given day that makes for an effective plan.

If the workout entails going all out with minimal rest until I have to be scraped off the track after, then that's what I do.  If I perform that session in any other manner (too fast, too slow, without attention), I understand that I am simply missing the point.  You learn to do the hard days hard, and the easy days easy (and, quite frankly, if you are doing Bjoern's hard workouts properly, you really learn to appreciate that rest!)

So the next time you see me dogging it around the seawall or lollygagging at the end of my swim lane....it's because I was supposed to be. :)  Training smart = a successful athlete!

1 comment:

  1. I have a joke with some of my training partners (about others) who 'win' the warmup. Or an easy day. I always try to be last on those days and warmups. It's hard to do sometimes, but usually pays off later. And if you are drastically slow then people know you aren't just BSing when you say you're going easy. They won't think you're really trying, but unable to keep up. It's a win/win.