Zenman's 2013 Training Journal: 04 October

small zendurance cycling logoFriday, 04 October

Prepping for USAT Long Course Nationals: Part 1


In the most recent Entry 27 September: The Precious Craft of Recovery, I launched into a rant about recovery. I cannot emphasize how paramount recovery is - especially to a “masters” athlete. Remember the successful fitness cycle includes not only the stress of the training session, but also recovery and adaptation. Failure to complete the entire training cycle leads to injury, illness, burnout or even Chronic Adrenal Fatigue. (I’m an expert on this one! Never again!)

I believe the pro cyclists have a saying, “He who trains hardest wins. He who recovers fastest can train hardest.”

I’m not a big fan of training “hard”. However, I subscribe vigorously to conducting appropriate high-intensity training sessions while relentlessly pursuing perfect technique. This is not “grit your teeth, tense every muscle, and kick ass”. This is mindful, kinetically intelligent interval work with a focus on staying mentally and physically empty and relaxed. It’s a high-intensity alliance with gravity.

Assessing Recovery

After the “S.O.S. - Savageman Duo”, I allowed for adequate recovery before attempting any quality sessions to prepare for USAT LCN - the finale of my 10-race triathlon season. My daily morning practice of T’ai Chi (see the previous Entry below) provides more than a powerful process for orchestrating recovery. It is also my daily “baseline test” (along with assessment of how well I slept). Beginning everyday with this same process, I am able to assess both my physical and mental readiness.

Once I feel ready to increase the challenge (the stress level) of my training (i.e. “high-intensity”), I begin with a swim session. Hence, 4 days after Savageman (Thursday, 19 September), I did my first interval work in the pool - a conservative 45-minute session with just 3 reps of a “300/100 volley” using a Tempo Trainer. It felt “right”.

For clarification about my swim training methods, see 29 August: Training and Racing, Post “Casual” Iron

The next day, I rode to the Cornell running track and did a conservative track workout - focusing mostly on drills, with some strides and jump rope work. The strides and jump rope work were very short intervals with generous recovery between.

Strength for Recovery

In the first 7 days following Savageman, I did three yoga-Pilates mat sessions. (Instead of my usual two.) The additional one was very early in the morning after Savageman, in my motel room (after a poor night’s sleep). By Saturday’s mat session (the third one, 7 days later), I was feeling pretty robust again. I did another short-duration high-quality swim session Saturday afternoon. (So far no real challenging work on the bike or run.)

Patience Pays Off

Sunday (7 days after Savageman), I did a longer swim session with longer intervals. Now I was certain: “All systems “GO!” I also did 2 runs that day - each 45 minutes. The morning hilly run included (4X) short hill repeats at high intensity. The afternoon run was flat terrain with a focus on cadence. These runs served as “layered training” - more a preparation for my November running challenge than for USAT LCN.

Finally... On Monday - 8 days after Savageman - I was ready to ramp it up! In the morning, I did an 80-minute stationary session on the TT bike with interval work. As I conducted a series of 2-minute intervals above lactate threshold, I envisioned racing at LCN. While my legs were singing the “Burn Song”, I focused on how these intervals were challenging my neural system to recruit more muscle fibers for each pedal stroke. I welcomed the burn and turned up the heat. I transitioned to a 25-minute run at cadence (180 strides-per-minute), and followed that with 10 minutes of jump rope and balance disk. In the evening, I rode easy outside for 30 minutes before leading an Introductory "Easy Freestyle" Swim Clinic.

Taking advantage of the beautiful weather on Tuesday (and the freedom from any obligations until the evening Swim Mastery Class), I began the morning (after T’ai Chi) with a 35-minute run. Then I took the TT bike out on the road for a 3-hour ride at Zone 2-3 intensity. An easy 20-minute zen-swim and a 15-minute steam before teaching in the evening.

Wednesday was (as usual) a low energy day - with a mat session early in the morning, and a mellow midday run. In the evening, before Swim Mastery, I was able to muster enough “zip” for a set of 100 yard sprints in the pool with the Tempo Trainer.

SOS T1

Then on Thursday, it was time to “detonate” my legs once more on the TT bike on the stationary stand. I had decided to make this a “bike focus week”. This was one of the most challenging bike training sessions of the 2013 season. After the usual Zendurance Cycling Drills to prepare my neuromuscular system, I did (2X) 20:00/5:00 at my 40-minute power threshold - cadence 85-92. Again, I “inspired” this session by envisioning my race at the upcoming LCN. I followed this immediately with a 25-minute run at cadence with frequent short surges throughout the run. My legs were really trashed after this one!! Great job!! (And that assures "great play" at USAT LCN.)

Friday began with a 45-minute hilly recovery run. Midday, I swam 35 minutes with another (3X) “300/100 volley”. Betsy and I travelled to New Paltz in the late afternoon - arriving too late to do any evening training. I led a TI Weekend Workshop on Saturday and Sunday. Along with an early-morning mat session, on Saturday, I ran very easy for 20 minutes midday, and rode the TT bike on flat terrain (”Just spinnin’!”) in the evening. My legs felt fatigued during each of these sessions.

Sunday morning, I did a short session on the stationary: Two reps of Zendurance Cycling Drills, and then 10 reps of “Tabatta Intervals”: (10X) 20 seconds all-out/10 seconds recovery. This takes only 5 minutes total (after a thorough warm-up) but feels very demanding. However recovery is fast. Midday, I ran 30 minutes with (6X) hill repeats. We travelled home Sunday evening.

I will post “Part 2” of my Preparation for USAT LCN in a few days. This Entry will feature my experience of “unexpected medicine” during an intensive run interval set on Monday.

With every outdoor session, I am beholding the wondrous autumn colors. I feel so fortunate to live this healthy life.

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