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Another Tip of the Week

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Another Tip of the Week

Postby natellerandi » Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:59 pm

I can't recall if I've posted on this topic before or have just thought about it. But, reading yet another article on the subject yesterday is prompting me to risk overcommunicating rather than undercommunicating with Hammer folks.

As you're aware, I undertook some physiology testing about 3 months ago. As a refresher, I learned that my aerobic engine needed some tuning, so it's been a nearly-100% focus on strict aerobic training since then. I'm scheduling a re-test in the coming weeks and will be excited to share the results with all of you.

What I'm finding interesting is the overall progress being made by this strict aerobic training. It's not just about "fat burning". Other changes occur as well. For example, teaching the body to recycle lactate at the cellular level rather than the metabolic level -- a process than can take a fraction of the time and is invaluable for helping spare muscle glycogen and reducing overall fatigue as we hit the latter stages of training sessions and races.

Another thing I find interesting is that in training the major difference between pro cyclists and amateurs is volume trained. Pros typically perform the same amount of interval training as amateurs. However, they do so within the context of (typically) higher volume so the percentage of time spent doing the interval work is lower. What's the difference in that volume? The pros are performing the vast majority of their training at the L1/L2 level. Don't confuse this with generic "LSD" training. Yes, when you first start focusing on L1/L2-only training, it's pretty slow. You have to hold back to keep the HR down. However, after some time, you realize you have to start working fairly hard to get the HR to climb to mid-L2. What I've noticed over the past 3 months is that I've lost about 7 pounds (3 kilos) and am now pressing out an additional 35-40 watts at the same HR. The increase in watts coupled with the reduction in weight means my power/weight ratio has skyrocketed in the aerobic zone.

Lastly, the focus on L1/L2 was mentally liberating. I didn't have to think about what I was going to do and I didn't have to psych myself up for an interval session. I don't have trouble psyching myself up, but not having to do so multiple days as week means that I'll be mentally fresher come the race season. That's going to be key come the meat of the summer.

So, what am I getting at here? In trying to emulate the pros, amateurs tend to go overboard; I know I have. We train too hard too often and/or too much. I'm learning just how rapidly the body adapts to interval work. We don't need months or even weeks on end to sharpen up. 2-4 weeks of focused interval work can produce big gains. And the beauty is that you won't be sacrificing your aerobic fitness -- which is the real performance inhibitor in the latter stages of the types of races we do (the ones lasting multiple hours or even days on end.

The mentality is typically that if we are not flogging ourselves on a regular basis then we are not inducing progress. We are not forcing our fitness forward and are only making ourselves slow. A smart doctor put it this way to me -- "There's a difference between being tired and being fatigued. Too many athletes are in a constant fatigue state." So, as you train, tune into the difference. If you didn't get enough sleep, you're tired. If you trained too hard and you feel like a lead weight as you rise in the morning, you're fatigued. Occasional fatigue is OK; there will be times when we push ourselves over the edge. However, if you're feeling fatigued more often than not, then you're training too much and/or too hard.

The goal isn't to "win" in training; the goal is to win while racing (whatever your definition of "win" is). I'm saying that by relaxing things in our training, we better set ourselves up to find success in races.

Happy Training,
Nate Llerandi
natellerandi
 
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