Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Corner: Understanding Intensity Part II

The Corner: Understanding Intensity Part II
By Gordo Byrn

You can find Part One of this article in my blog. It contains charts, technical thoughts and various assumptions, which you’d need a physiology lab to verify. Even then, you could quite easily draw different conclusions to what I wrote.

This week’s article is my attempt to take the ideas in Part One and “keep it real”. I am going to explain how you can pull those ideas into your training and racing.

At our July Boulder Camp, I had the opportunity to listen to Justin and Alan talk about athletic performance. A couple of things stuck with me:

Consistency is about your capacity to repeat sessions that are relevant to your goals. Justin’s point was that training is about more than simply hitting it every day. We need to be repeating sessions that move us closer to what we want to achieve.

Alan shared some thoughts that he had picked up from an author that took Arthur Lydiard’s work on running and applied it to triathlon. Taking what (I think) I heard…

Lydiard wrote about three levels of training intensity:

1/4 effort – the athlete could repeat the session immediately after completing it.

1/2 effort – the athlete could repeat the session the day following completing it.

3/4 effort – the athlete would need more than a day to recovery from the effort.

Within common endurance vocabulary you could refer to these efforts as: Recovery; Steady; and Tempo, respectively.

Full effort would then be any session (or race, or camp, or training strategy) that spends fitness rather than creates it.

I think that this is a brilliant way of evaluating your personal approach to intensity. In an earlier article, I talked about the risk of excessive Red Zone intensity. Alan provided me with a great way to define Red Zone training – it’s anything that you can’t repeat tomorrow. Given that fitness is built from the capacity to repeat relevant sessions – the bulk of our training will need to be 1/2 effort most of the time AND, most importantly, the session that you can handle has no impact on the session that I can handle (even if we have the EXACT training zones – see Part One).

So rather than work through all those charts that were in Part One… here is what you do:

#1 – Figure out the key sessions that are most relevant to your chosen event. I have been sharing my thoughts on these in this column as well as my blog.

#2 – Build your capacity to manage these key sessions by gradually building up your Green Zone training.

#3 – Efforts that take you into your Red Zone should be limited and, only rarely, compromise your Green Zone training.

Put another way – all distances of triathlon are challenging endurance events. Your maximum Green Zone training level is the best proxy for your endurance.

In training, you are what you can repeat.

In racing, you get what you can execute.

Choose Wisely,