House 2. Employing an Architect: Having a Plan and Laying the Foundations
In the previous blog of this series I wrote about building yourself an efficient Hybrid Engine and getting yourself in a mental position where you're raring to go for the 2016 season. The trick now is to make sure that you are well prepared to put
building blocks of training between now and your 'A' race.
The usual trick is to work back from 'X' day and place in structured cycles of training that lead to you peaking ready for that day. Rather than working back I am going to work forward through these blog articles. The focus of this article is going to be on how to successfully get back into training and transition from your off-season.
I see there being 6 building blocks that need working through:
1. Assess last season SWOT
2. Decide on goals for next year
3. Informal training - no data, just rediscover your love for it
4. Structural Assessment
5. Core Stability - Injury Management
The first steps involve assessing last years training and performances: what did you do well, where did you go wrong and what opportunities do you have to improve or simply enjoy yourself. A logical next step is to decide on what you would like to achieve next year, which races would you like to do, when are they, when and can you enter? Whilst doing this paperwork do some training but do it for fun, do it because you want to and forget the watch or the plan. This informal training will get you gently back into things without the mental strain and worry of am I getting faster, am I doing the correct sessions.
If you were building a house it is always a good idea to first consult a trained professional, an architect to help you create your own 'Grand Design'. The first steps above are the logistical plan the second step involves making a physical plan and this is where a physical MOT or muscoskeletal screening comes in. This will look at ranges of movement about joints, flexibility, core strength and functional strength in order to identify previous injuries and also areas of inefficiency which may lead to injury or reduced capacity for performance. It therefore isn't just a tool for injury prevention but health and performance. Our resident Kevin McCloud is Gordon Bosworth of The Bosworth Clinic. Gordon has worked with the team members, coaches and some of our coached athletes to ensure that we know the weaknesses in our structure and how we need to go about creating a solid mechanical infrastructure for our 2015 seasons.
From now until Christmas for the majority core stability will come first. Do you have the basic balance and co-ordination to be able to carry out simple movements? For example can you stand on one leg with your eyes shut for 20sec? Running is a series of single leg stances, if you can't balance on one leg how can you run? Are you able to activate your core and maintain a neutral spine position, can you hold a plank for one minute? Get back into organised swim, bike and run training but forget about pace, power and heart rate do some sessions without the watch for fun, because you enjoy it! Cross country running and mountain biking are other good ways to mix up the stimuli they also happen to work on a lot of proprioceptive conditioning (balance and stability) that is beneficial further down the line.
Shift some metal
Once this short phase is over this time of year is a good time to have a heavy percentage of your training focussed on strength and conditioning. This doesn't mean you stop swim, bike and run or even harder effort sessions. For most it just means accepting that you will likely feel sluggish during these sessions due to the fatigue from some heavy lifting. As with any exercise make sure you seek expert guidance on lifting with good technique before graduating to the heavy stuff.
Don't stress the swim, bike and run too much at this point a relaxed attitude towards them helps to promote athletic longevity, preventing tedium, and also leaves you with more reserves when it comes to really working intensely and consistently in a few months time. Reserve the effort for the strength and conditioning make sure these sessions are done consistently and accurately, if another session is missed or you go off plan every so often then so be it.
If you are to start your 2015 season with vague plans that shortcut the details and don't have specific process goals you are likely to become muddled along the way and compromise on your achievements. If you lay out your plans with your dates and get the correct information from the experts for your immediate programme and objectives you are a lot less likely to meet complications or tripping points further down the line in the construction of your 'Grand Design'. Make your design and structure strong, make organised plans and dig deep for your foundations with your strength training.
Next time we will be looking again at laying the foundations and then turning our attention to surviving the Christmas and New Year period.
Alan, Performance Manager at Tri Training Harder