How many times during a post-race interview when asked, ‘What has been the big difference in your training that has lead to this success?’ have you heard an athlete say ‘I had a really good winter’. A good winter? What do they mean? A good example would be Alistair Brownlee. In 2009 he had great preparation over winter, building his fitness and remaining injury free. He was unbeaten in every race he entered in the ITU World Championship Series. Contrast that with this year when he developed a stress fracture in his leg over the winter and his winter training suffered as a result and he had a much less consistent year. There were other complications such as illness during the competition period and he did make a remarkable comeback but he was not quite the same unbeatable athlete of the year before.
Winter is all about trying to turn your body into an economical fat burning machine that is resistant to injury. This means performing the majority of your workouts in the ‘aerobic zones’, building strength and improving technique across all three disciplines. When I say strength I mean not only muscular strength but also the strength of bones, tendons and connective tissues. These tissues will adapt to the stress being placed on them through appropriate training and recovery. Winter training is not just about going long and slow though. At the same time we do not want to lose all the speed we established in the previous race season so some faster paced sessions are still beneficial. These are the sessions we perform as a club on Tuesday and Sunday. Building speed at this stage of the year is not the priority.
The BTF uses five ‘training intensity zones’ based on a percentage of maximum heart rate (% MHR). The majority of your training over winter training will be in Zone 1 which is up to 65% MHR and Zone 2 which is between 65 and 90% MHR. If you have never performed a test to establish your MHR you can use a Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). This is generally expressed on a scale of 6-20. If you want to know a little more about RPE click here. Zone 1 is between 10-13 (light to moderately hard) and Zone 2 is between 13-16 (moderately hard to hard). After you have had a break and are ready to return to structured training most of your sessions should be in Zone 1 and then moving into the lower end of Zone 2. Later, as your fitness improves more of your sessions will be performed at the upper end of Zone 2. It can get a lot more technical than this if you are interested!
I am on a course this Tuesday and may not make the run session at Well Street Common. There will be people keen to train so you can still run as a group. Here is the plan: Warm up: 1km easy jog Technique drills: perform over 15-20m with a jog back recovery and repeat each 2x
- Mini skips – small hop on one foot then the other
- Heel flicks – high cadence picking heels up under the buttocks
- High knees – high cadence bringing knees up to hip height
- Big skips – just like you did as a kid but going for height and length
Main set: Remember 1km is one loop of the usual course
- 1x3km @ 10km pace + 2mins recovery
- 1x2km @ 5km pace + 90sec recovery
- 1x1km @ 3km pace
Cool down: 1km easy jog and static stretches
Not everyone agrees with the winter base training philosophy I have outlined very briefly above. I would be interested to hear your thoughts so feel free to leave comments.
See you Sunday if not Tuesday. Tim (LFTC Coach)