This block was designed to make sure I really nailed my strength targets. I’ve been working towards this strength goal for three years. Since I’ve worked with Alan in fact. It seems a long time coming and I wanted to have fun this block in my sessions, just lifting for fun, trying different sets before I put ‘strength development’ to rest.
Before I worked with Alan I had several years of cranking out twenty five hour training weeks. But I’d reached a rut. I didn’t know it but I was hitting against a strength ceiling, I was winning local hill climbing competitions, and won my age group at the 70.3 in Exmoor. But I couldn’t compete with the big boys on flatter courses. No amount of fitness can make you hold 280watts in an Ironman, if you can only hold 320 watts for five minutes. I’ve got the peak power, I’ve got the five minute power now I need the five hour power and that requires going back to training in a similar way as I used to do and that means saying goodbye to twice a week strength training.
While strength work will always be a part of my triathlon training, now it will be in terms of maintenance and injury prevention rather than getting stronger. Sitting here now, thinking of what to do for next months block, I must admit I am a little sad to see it take a back seat, and also apprehensive about what it means. Now I’m going into one session a week maintenance mode, it means I need to focus on the last major stage in my development. That is the bit that will actually get me faster, and is steady state endurance.
It is easy to work towards a big goal when it is far away, it almost doesn’t seem real, especially if you have nothing else in your life to work towards it becomes the only thing to do. Dreaming of the future is fun, but now the time as come where I should actually start to improve rapidly in Ironman, closing down on the super fast times of the elites. Now is when I see if this plan will work.
So what is the plan for moving ahead? The way I programme my training I work in terms of training stress scores (TSS); a sort of athletic currency if you will. The training in this block consisted of three weeks of around 1000TSS. This is based on how fit I am and how tired I can get myself without becoming over trained. I allocated training stress as follows 13% swimming, 40% cycling, 17% running, 12% weights, and 17% misc riding. I live a few miles from town and don’t drive so whenever I go to the gym or swim or supermarket I have to make a trip into town, which adds up and is worth noting.
This has paid off, my swimming is going well, as is my running. As both steady state endurance and in particular my cycling power at this intensity is a main weakness, I will be focusing on that for the next block. I’ll be doing the same amount of swimming and running, but as I’ve got fitter and will therefore do more total TSS, the percentages for these will drop slightly. Intervals at Ironman watts will replace gym allocated training stress and I will drop a big gear workout in favour of more steady cycling. So I’ll be down to two strength sessions a week rather than four. This will help me get more training done as my legs won’t be as wrecked from time in the squat rack.
So how fit am I? My threshold watts are around 265, my bike VDOT is 52, and my run VDOT is 56, which makes my running marginally better than my cycling (running VDOT will always be higher as it uses more muscle mass so it is the ratio between the two numbers which is important).
This may sound low for someone with such high expectations for next season, in truth it is right where I plan on being. I track my predicted threshold watts (based on logging training stress) along with my actual (based on logging performance). After multiple seasons with Alan, he worked out an equation which looks at the relationship between how much work I’m doing (TSS) to the performance it gets me. Because of this measure of the past, I can predict the near future. If all goes to plan and I don’t get injured or ill I can expect my threshold to be as high as 330 watts next year, Elite thresholds vary with the size of the athlete but I’d expect elites of my size to have a threshold around 360-370.
So now all I have to do is rack up the steady state training. Until next week, enjoy your training, and enjoy the process.