SUMMER TRAINING: FORM & FUNCTION
A reminder the why’s and how’s of doing Training Pace Workouts (Playtri lingo for zones 2-3), specifically through the heat, humidity, and & heat index challenges throughout the summer. SHORT ON TIME? SKIP TO #4 & START APPLYING TO YOUR TP SESSIONS TODAY.
1. WARM UP & COOL DOWN
This is a funny one in 100 degrees... a lot of athletes assume that they can skip these two crucial aspects of their workouts. Just because you are externally warm does NOT mean your body is ready to roll. Why? Most athletes sit more/move less in the summer in the south because it is so hot outside, meaning glutes and hamstrings are “asleep", meaning greater risk of overuse and injury because of slower response and overload on the hip flexors, quads, IT band strain, shin splints, calf strains, plantar issues....
In other words, you skip it- your body will resist what you are asking of it.
2. HEART RATE
I sound like a broken record, BUT YOUR HEART RATE WILL ALWAYS DICTATE HOW STRONG OR FAST YOU ARE ABLE TO GO. Period. What do I mean? If you linger right at or even slightly above your Training Pace heart rate then 1) you’ll experience cardiac drift and constantly have to slow down throughout the workout to execute the goal of the day (eventually getting slower over time due to this “descent” training) - 2) If I were to ask you mid point of that Training Pace ride or run to now push harder into Race Pace, truly how much faster can you go, if you only have 5-10 bpm to work with... answer, you won't go much faster at all - you will have tapped out on what your heart can do.
So, when you do Training Pace work, ask yourself, "How much room would I have to work with, if the workout called for a Race Pace interval. Do I need to back off?"
And then do it : )
You are in a sport that is strength based... even in the sprint distance, it requires approximately one hour of intensity. Compared to a true sprinter or even cross country collegiate athlete, your sport REQUIRES & DEMANDS durability & endurance. Once the strength component begins to break down, form falls apart and the risk of overuse injury significantly increases. True Training Pace workouts allow safe, continuous time and mileage on the body that allows the body to adapt. If you are constantly pushing the heart rate/ pace because you "want to go faster" or because it is hard to "keep your heart rate low" in Training Peaks sessions, no doubt you are not accomplishing the goals of safely strengthening and increasing your endurance and durability.
In the summer, your ability to focus may be greatly impacted and impaired due to the adverse conditions. Reduced focus on form means increased risk of overuse and injury... do you see the theme here?? So, here is what I need you to do - EVERY TRAINING PACE WORKOUT needs to be considered a DRILL WORKOUT.
What the heck does that mean?
Every 15-20min or so, I want you to check in.
On the bike, ask yourself am I: looking only ~3ft ahead of me, keeping my chin from tilting up and creating strain in the neck and shoulders that will carry to my lower back later in the ride, are my shoulders relaxed, am I maintaining a solid pelvic tilt in the saddle, can I feel my glutes and hamstrings firing or am I just overloading the quads to produce power, are my feet 'planted' neutral or am I pointing my toes down through the the pedal stroke... Quick glide, stop pedaling, check in, stretch the hip flexors, reset and continue the Training Pace work with great form.
Same thing on the run (hence why some of your Training Pace work has walk / easy jog breaks prescribed). Check in during the breaks and ask yourself: are my eyes looking straight at the horizon, are my shoulders relaxed, am I over using or twisting/straining at my torso, can I feel my glutes and hamstrings activating/lifting throughout my stride or am I simply shuffling and overloading my hip flexors, quads, creating excessive strain and tightness in tendons surrounding the knee cap, calves, how is my foot strike (heel striking, neutral, or on my toes).
AGAIN, SLOW DOWN, AND CHECK IN- THIS IS A DRILL WORKOUT!
5. MENTAL COMPONENT
Training Pace workouts are not built for PR's - ideally, your watch should only have heart rate and time on your data screens, if you use a GPS watch. Mileage is not the only name of the game here. You are doing it wrong if you try to push these workouts. Overtime, you will be forced to either kick the training back to increase recovery between sessions and/or you will get injured, which may lead to halting some of training altogether, specifically on the bike and/or the run.
FYI - the body is not afraid of biting you back when you don't respect her/him!
This summer, keep Training Pace workouts about form and function. Race Pace workouts focused on fast and fun!
Learn more about Coach Amari at www.playtri.com/amari, or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.