Well, Brent and I had grand plans to put together a comprehensive training plan on Monday night. But Monday quickly gave way to Tuesday, and all of a sudden he’s back into teaching mode, I’m at a conference, and we’re both up to our eyeballs in work again.
So it goes, I guess!
That said, my off-season officially ended January 1, and after five weeks of low-key activity, my body and my psyche are digging the soreness that comes with intervals, hill repeats, strength training, and core work.
While Brent and I didn’t get to that formal plan, I’ve been spending some time thinking about what made last season so successful and what I can do now to both replicate and build upon it.
In 2011, Brent and I set a series of target workouts to be completed each month. There was:
- Long rides (40+ miles or 3+ hours) every other week.
- Climbing (2 hours) three times a month.
- Paddling (3+ hours) twice monthly.
- Technical mountain biking (1-2 hours on trails) once a week.
- Core/strength work three times a week.
- Three runs each week.
- Long hikes twice a month.
- Bushwhacking twice a month.
- Night training twice a month.
For the first couple months of the year and as weather permitted, I was able to meet most of these goals. As training gave way to racing, though, and the rest of life kicked into high gear, a lot of the more specialized workouts fell off the radar.
Climbing? Tough to coordinate.
Bushwhacking? Doesn’t really count when there’s no leaves on the branches and brush to break through.
Paddling? Forget it…
Still, in general, I felt really good about the training base I was able to build through the spring.
There was the middle-of-the-night indoor century ride in February…
…trips around the 17+ mile Wissahickon trail loop – on foot
and on bike
…and portaging adventures around the neighborhood.
Okay, so that last one was Brent… But still, by the time we got to the first event of the season, I felt better prepared and more confident than I’d ever felt going into an adventure race.
And aside from one off-day in the Catskills, over the course of last season I continually surprised myself with how much progress I’d made from the year before.
It wasn’t until Nationals that I realized that there was one key component missing in the early training regimen.
Leading up to Kentucky, Brent and I worked in a series of medium-length road rides that built from about 40 miles to 60 miles over the final month of the season. Though I’d been riding long in the spring, the unrelenting snow of 2011 meant that almost all of my time in the saddle was taking place indoors. I didn’t know what a difference it made until I incorporated in the longer road sessions.
After just three of four of those outings, I got to Nationals feeling stronger than I had all year. It’s not exaggeration to say that I had the best race of my life in Kentucky. And I can’t wait to replicate it in 2012.
With last year in mind, I’ve come up with a revised list of target workouts leading up to the first race of the season in early March. As I learned last year, once we get into the cycle of racing and recovering, it gets harder and harder to maintain the same level of training – which means that I want to build as much of a base as I can in the coming months.
And so, here is The Plan:
- 40+ mile rides (outdoor as weather permits) – twice per month
- Hill rides (outdoor as weather permits, combination of trails and roads) – twice per month
- AR Intervals (half-mile speed walking repeats at 5.0 on the treadmill) – once per week
- Core work – three times per week
- Push ups – three times per week
- Trail running – at least once per week, building to the Wissahickon loop at least once in the early spring
- Brick workouts – twice per week
There you have it – my minimum workout schedule for the next few months. I know that I’ll be supplementing this with additional runs and rides, with paddling to the extent that time and the Philadelphia winter allow, and with navigation work and night hiking (so long as they’re not culling deer in our local woods).
Within the next couple weeks, I expect to build up to roughly 15-18 hours per week of training – which leads to my other big goal for this season: to avoid burnout.
Last year, by March I found myself run down, sick, and perpetually sore. I hadn’t taken into account the quantity and quality of the workouts I was doing as compared to marathon training, and I thought that I could get by on one rest day per week. It wasn’t enough. Combine that with a serious lack of protein in my diet, and I was falling apart.
I remedied the problem relatively quickly by backing off a bit on training and making the leap to omnivore-dom after 20 years as a vegetarian. This year, I’d like to avoid it all together.
With serious effort, focus, and a little bit of luck, we’ll get to South Carolina in March ready to take on the ‘gators with gusto.
And so it begins…