Now that we are closing the door to last year’s racing and training season and as our 2016 season approaches, it is time to sit down and reflect what we did right and what we want to add or include into our 2016 training. Here is my evaluation list of 7 training elements.
Are you at your optimal race weight? If not and you are thinking of losing those last 5 extra pounds now is the time to take action. It is difficult at best to lose weight when you are in the depths of hard training. Our bodies like homeostasis, this set point is hard to renegotiate when the workload is demanding. If you do experience weight loss during the racing season this often equates to a performance loss, as a depleted body is a sluggish body. If you’re really hoping to peak in your 2014 season, losing the extra weight now is imperative to peaking for that “A” race in August.
#2: Recovery meal and hydration:
How well did you recover during the critical post 30 min workout recovery window? All too often, athletes forgo the refueling and rehydration post workout due to busy lives. This is a big mistake and one that can lead to a slow recovery phase, burnout, and injury. Finding a recovery drink or meal with 15-20gr of Protein and 45-60gr of Carbohydrate that works well for you can get you on the fast track to a full recovery for your next day’s workout. Your workout isn’t over until you’re fully recovered.
#3: Rest and recovery weeks:
Its not the hard workouts and long training run that most runners have troubles with. It’s the balance of when to rest vs. when to build miles and intensity that most don’t get right. Too hard or too long of a training run early in the season can lead to performance doubt if not injury to an athlete. And never allowing your body a rest week or taper for a race will lead to burnout and sub-par training and racing season. When to build mileage, intensity and volume weeks and when to rest are important training practices and should be considered an integral part of any athlete’s training schedule.
#4: Training specificity:
Did you train for your “A” race, by add training elements to our plan that addressed race specific terrain? For example: was your “A” race, a mountainous 100mile run or a flat hot and humid 50mile run? The training plan for each one of these races will look very differently. Some of the pit falls can be training with other runners who’s goals don’t match yours, or only training to a “miles diary” and forgetting about the quality and specificity of those miles. Did you choosing “C and B” races that supported your “A” race? Lets say you got into Hard Rock 100miles last year, but you live in Alabama so your training consisted of road marathons every weekend. Needless to say your race did not go optimally. Before you sign up for that “A” race, break down the course and terrain profile then ask yourself can I get quality training in all the areas needed to have a great race between now and the race date. If the answer is no, then this maybe a 2 year race goal while you build the strengths needed to achieve your goal.
#5: Train to your weaknesses:
It’s really hard to not want to train only your strengths. After all, when you go out for a training runthat plays to your strengths, you naturally feel better about yourself. This is a tough habit to break since your body and your mind want to do what they do best. To make the most out of your training, make sure you are putting in enough time working on your weaknesses. Some training pitfalls are narrowing your pace and heart rate zones that you’re training in. This is the quickest way to plateau your fitness and sub sequentially will lead to performance stalemate. Or if you know you need to become a better climber, make hill interval workouts a part of your weekly schedule. The idea is to improve enough on your weaknesses that they become strengths or at least not detriments.
#6: Heart Rate and Pace target zones:
Did you have clear and defined training heart rate and pace zones? Did you use your zones to reach your goals or did you train in your comfort zone with LSD? Training is an ever-changing process. As you get stronger and you become a more efficient runner your training zones will change. Neglecting to update your training zones or not use them at all will lead to over and under training. Revising your zones with a Lactate Threshold test every three months will keep you training in the correct zones for your fitness and goals.
#7: Did you have fun?:
If you can’t answer unequivocally and resoundingly “YES” from the depths of your heart then it may be time to step back and take a break. Remember when you first started running. What was it that hooked you? For most people, their answer will include the word “fun”. I challenge that training and racing should always be fun. If we allow ourselves to embrace the full process of training, the hard effort, the exhaustion, the beautiful scenery and our fellow runners, this can be affirming and metaphoric for the other parts of your life. But if every workout leaves you drained and broken down emotionally and mentally this should not be ignored and a break from racing and training and or/a call to your Dr is in order. Try to mix elements of fun into your training whenever possible. This can take form in a variety of ways. Whatever makes you smile during your training is well worth incorporating into your schedule. Staying true to the “fun” that hooked you to running is crucial to being a lifelong athlete.
Taking the time to reflect on your training and racing season will give you insight and set you on the right foot for your new goals! What gets measured gets managed.
Cindy Stonesmith, Running Endurance Coach with www.ultrarunnertraining.com