So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's a Rebus, Ya Butthead...

(A tip of the swim cap/cycling helmet/running visor to "Chuckie V" Veylupek. A little more obscure & cryptic than his road sign, but hey! That's the way I am, right?)
So, the end of the calendar year is always great fun for me. Not only does it allow me to scale back the running or cycling I do in order to spend more quality time - running - with my wife, I also get to play my favorite puzzle game, called "What The Heck Did We Do Wrong This Year?"

Well, it's not the official name of the game, but it's the working title for what new twist do we want to try in our training to replace the things that didn't do so well last year? I know, it's not as catchy as Scrambled Eggs, which was the working title for one of the greatest pop tunes of the past fifty years (kudos to anyone who knows the title - I don't have anything special I can give, short of my admiration!), but it will have to do.
Last year I tossed the fairly-well tried-and-true three weeks on, one week off training intensity cycle right out the window for a shorter three/four/five day on, one day off cycle. Unfortunately, I don't control all of the workout factors; I can swim up to six days a week (seven if I wish to engage in open-water!), and I can bike, run or do strength training almost any time I please. But sometimes I like the idea of getting out on a ride, or a social run, with a friend. We're social animals, we humans. While we may not have identical training goals & our physiological make-up varies by chronological & training age, there are times we like to have someone else suffering along with us.
So, this year I have decided to carpe the damned diem...seize the day. There are enough social-like training-like situations where I can get the necessary intensity in without feeling like the Lone Doggone Ranger. Rather than focus strictly on hard mileage/yardage, I've borrowed from a number of guides to gauge the volume & the balance between the disciplines.
The first guide is from Joe Friel's The Triathlete's Training Bible (I have the next-to-most-recent-edition). Since I'm focusing on two IM 70.3 events this year & I'm a middling-to-back-of-the-pack (blame it on my swimming) participant, I'm looking at the middle of Friel's 500-to-700 hours of training per year window. So, when I look at the amount of time I spent this year it's not going to be a big change, time-wise (this makes my wife very happy!). Friel has a week-by-week breakdown through each of the base, build, and prep cycles leading to the event, & the events are far enough apart to give me a chance to re-cycle through base & build in the summer.

Even neater than this, Friel lays out a division of hours per day for each week. Sundays have the most time available; which seems in line with most middle-class triathletes, & the week slowly tapers off in hours for training, with Saturday being the shortest day of the week, where your most intense stuff, or your C & B races, fit in. But there are days where my swim work is 'etched in stone' because of my masters' group, & the twice-weekly Six At Six beatdown is becoming a regular thing there's a healthy chunk of the week taken up. But it's probably a better thing to have a little too little training volume than too much, right? I doubt if anyone ever got injured from undertraining over time.
The second tool is Dan Empfield's aerobic points system. For me to get out & run 8-to-12 miles on the weekend, 8 miles in the middle of the week, & five-to eight miles worth on the elliptical trainer (or treadmill, if I'm not too beat up) may...or may such a good thing, especially in light of how badly I swim. Empfield's point of view, as well as many other coaches is race your strengths, train your limiters.
(If you're strictly running you will be better served by Jack Daniels' points system, which is published in the latest version of Daniels' Running Formula. But if you're a beginner tri-geek you might want to use this guide to keep your training you don't spend too much time working on the stuff in which you are already good.)
Empfield's system works like this:
1 mile cycling = 1 point
1/4 mile running (~400 meters on track!) = 1 point
100 meters (yards) swimming = 1 point
I did a little bit of adaptation because of my tendency to beat myself up on the run: If I use the elliptical trainer (with a heart rate monitor!), I'll divide the time spent on the ET by 2.4-to-3.3 (2.4 if the average heart rate is closer to maximum, 3.3 if the average is closer to 50 percent) and give that score to the ET workout. (In essence, it's a way to equate elliptical trainer with cycle!) So, 25 miles of running might equate to 100 miles on the bike or 10,000m (yd) in the pool.
A hard-core runner might not need to develop strength by hitting the weight room, & some triathlon coaches consider hitting the pool to be better than pumping iron. Empfield prefers weights, so, every five minutes pumping weight (after 20 minutes) earns a point. A one-hour session would give you 12 points, but that assumes no lollygagging, definitely a hard-core weight session.
If there's a weakness in your training or you aren't certain how to balance out life & training, or the disciplines for which you are training, it helps to figure out what some of the good coaches are doing or telling their charges...might work for you; might not. We're all an experiment of one. Don't do the same thing over again if you're looking for different results.

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