Keep The Faith - Spring Training

1. Motivation
2. Keeping a Diary
3. Training Tips – marathon and cycling
4. Tiredness & Remedies
5. The February Question

This month is all about keeping the faith. You will have been logging those training miles running, biking and no doubt will have visited the pool frequently during those early mornings and dark evenings. For those of you who have been training since November keep patient and for those who waited until after Christmas you still have a way to go and plenty of time.

Winter training is demanding and is often underestimated. Injuries and over training occurs not just with quality but also with regular consistent training as it takes it toll mentally and physically.

Fatigue signs are missed because volume training is done at sub maximal effort so real fatigue is not noticed. Watch out for signs like irritability, sore throat, and legs heavier than normal when walking up stairs, running or climbing up hills. Back off a little use a few un-timed sprints to test how tired you may be.

At this time of year you may start to find it hard to motivate yourself, reflected by “going through the motions” in training. There are many reasons why motivation may decrease races are a long way off and being wrapped up, training in the cold air slows you down and makes you feel you have lost last years form.

Using a structured training plan focuses the mind and helps keep your motivation high. Doing a single sport race once a month is fun and keeps you focused -although it is important keep your sights on the much bigger picture and not to taper for these.

Are there any sessions that you time or use your heart rate to see if you are improving? Please do not compare these training times and efforts with the summer months. Judge how you feel from previous winters. Conversely if you time every run - try some sessions without a watch so you can run on feel and monitor your running style breathing and form.

If busy with other distractions you could be mentally tired, this is not due to training and can affect your motivations levels. You may have been busy and lost a little form, this is OK as it is still officially winter just back off slightly. Do not be fooled into thinking a rest day is when you do not train; try to make sure that your rest day is also a lighter day at work, so it is a day without both mental and physical stresses.

Are you keeping a diary for feedback? Keeping a diary is your own memory coach, go back and see exactly what you have done what helped and what didn't. The main things to record are time, distance, how you felt and hours of sleep. Keep a note of any niggles and whether you felt unwell after a session or certain amount of training.

Pencil in your daily diary what you want to accomplish this week i.e. a long session, a tempo timed run, and try and stick to it.

Reviewing the amount of training completed boosts your morale when you see what you have done. However, if this exposes you, do not despair, as you will have identified it, so you can now do something about it. At least you will know why you feel unfit

If you have poor fitness levels and you have not done much training, do not make the mistake of doing hard sessions to catch up - keep it simple by purely increasing the training time not the intensity, by doing more you will see improvement as your fitness levels increase.

Are you managing to increase your volume in time each week? Intensity must not start until 12 weeks before your first B race. Effort level is still pure aerobic meaning conversational. The cold weather, time and distance will increase muscular effort and you must be maintaining consistency without washing yourself for days.

Remember it is hard for everyone at this time of year, missing sessions is not the end of the world the break may actually do you some good. If you only had 10 minutes to train you could do nothing or some core exercises; stretching regularly for 10 minutes is often enough; you feel you have done something worthwhile and this gives you a good sense of achievement.

Long runs result in a loss of strength as your body over compensates for endurance.
To offset this make sure you fit in hilly resistance runs; running off road builds strength and is easier on tired legs as it reduces the impact of running on hard surfaces. Running on a steep incline on the treadmill, after a 10 minute warm up, is time efficient and adds variety to your training.

Get in touch with your local cycle club for their reliability events, which are fairly common this month. These are long-distance rides typically 100km round some picturesque yet demanding routes. There are generally time bands to complete the course and you ride in groups that ideally match your ability, they are not a race but a serious training ride.

Picking the group is a great way to monitor your endurance fitness - Was it hard to stay with the group early on but by the end you were the strongest or could you cope early on but were then shelled out the back after a couple of hours?

It is usually easy to identify why you felt weak after a session. Feeling weak and loss of appetite is usually a sign of mild over training, not eating enough calories, slightly dehydrated or a combination of all three. One or a few of the following factors are usually involved: -

1. High intensity exercise dampens your appetite unlike steady training, which has the opposite effect and makes you hungrier. After slower longer efforts your appetite increases. High efforts especially running inside, heats up the body more, the central nervous system sends signals to your temperature sensitive appetite. This suppresses your appetite so you tend not to eat as much after a hard effort then think it is the hard session that makes you feel tired when it is partly due to not feeding properly afterwards.

2. Often not eating enough in the 45 minutes straight after exercise. This window of opportunity helps you recover much faster. This problem may have been caused from some exercises that you did as long as 6 days before i.e. Tuesday Circuits? Did you eat within 30/45 minutes of finishing?

3. Being on your feet at an exhibition or shopping can cause you to increase your fat burning leaving you low in energy when you try and train hard a day or so later.

4. Not drinking enough in the two days before can mean you go into a session a little dehydrated. Did you drink any alcohol in the 48 hours before Sunday’s hard effort? Or have extra drinks with caffeine in i.e. Coke or coffee? This can also make you dehydrated.

5. It could be a mild form of heat stroke, having a hot shower afterwards can make the situation worse. Have a warm to cool shower instead.

6. Getting up early and going to bed late can also make you weak.

7. The most common mistake is increasing the intensity or duration by more than 10% each week. Your body will find it hard to adapt especially after accumulating weeks of training. The next thing that could happen is you become ill when your immune system has difficulty coping.

Women often feel washed out after exercises specifically within the 2-5 days after menstruating, if this is the case increase your iron intake during menstruating to help increase your haemoglobin levels. I do not recommend taking iron supplements long term, better to make sure your food is rich in iron (see below).

Every mile you run you burn up approx 100 calories, so make sure you replace some of these calories straight after exercises i.e. Banana - apple - fruit- dried apricots or an energy bar - some toast & honey-jam. Regular snacking during the day on fruit energy bars etc can be a great to keeping your energy levels more constant.

Drink before you go to the gym and take a bigger bottle of electrolyte; plain water only goes straight through the body and will not always top up your water stores. Sip frequently while you exercise.

Foods rich in iron include Liver and dark leaf green vegetables; remember to take vitamin C to help absorb the Iron and refrain from having caffeine, which destroys vitamin C.

Is it OK to race or should I keep all my training aerobic until the spring?

Ironmate says:
This time of year single sport racing is great for triathletes – a half marathon, a short road race, a hilly time trial or reliability ride. You not only gain physiologically but also psychologically as races fun.

You need to establish where fitness levels are now; can you talk for England after a race or did you die before the finish. You need to find out how tired you are and a race provides a lot of information -lacking endurance /lacking pace/ not rested.

A half marathon is a much better guide than a 10km run race, as a half marathon during race season is too demanding; you want to use these types of races now in the off -season.

Plus a single sport race will highlight your current strengths and weakness. You can then modify your training accordingly - increase race pace anaerobic threshold work or build on endurance.

Design your own swim race, meet up with a training mate and race over 1500 metres – don’t be concern over who should be the fastest, work out a handicap to make it more fun.