Committed to your first long-distance triathlon in 2014 but worried about staying on track over winter? Simon Ward tells you how, with sensible planning and attention to recovery, you can get to Ironman Wales in great shape.
1. Rest and recovery are critical
Training slowly breaks down the body, so you need periods of recovery to allow it to repair and gradually become stronger. This is how fitness develops.
2. The next step after a peak is always down
If you have entered other races next year then you'll have have several goals for the future, each of which will require you to peak.
Now we have reached the end of the season, you need to plan in some real recovery. This would be 3-4 weeks of unstructured fun training.
No plan, just exercise as you feel and avoid the use of tools like heart-rate monitors, GPS and power meters.
3. Short-term events, long-term build-up
As IM Wales will probably be the final event for 2014, see all other events you do as part of the build-up.
This means that you should aim to avoid injury and maintain fitness in all three disciplines in the run-up, in order to peak next September.
Each block of training must have a specific goal. As part of this, you need to build in recovery.
A recovery week (lower volume and intensity) is best inserted after every two or three weeks of harder training.
5. Hard and easy
Within each 2-3-week block of hard training, alternate between hard days and easy days so that the body partially recovers.
Limit yourself to 1-2 hard days per week. The closer you push yourself to the edge, the more likely you’ll go too far and get injured or ill.
6. Daily metrics
One more tactic that can be employed to avoid the perils mentioned above is to keep daily metrics.
Record the following every day: sleep quantity and weight. Then score the following out of five, with one being best and five worst: sleep quality; muscle soreness; motivation to train; fatigue; stress.
Generally, if your scores are between 1-3, then you should continue with your programme. But if they start heading up towards 5, this means that you need to adapt your training.
Dial down either the duration or the intensity. Or have a day off.
Be realistic with your goals for 2014 and develop a training programme that takes you slowly towards them. Then just monitor your responses during training and take action if things start heading south.
Remember, consistency is the key to success, so avoiding injury and illness must be one of your main priorities.
(Photo: Ironman Europe)
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