Tuesday 15 January 2013

2013 tri training: Quality over Quantity

Operation 1:15 Blenheim Triathlon, 2:25 Hyde Park triathlon

Well, 2013 is here and underway, and like everybody else I have new year resolutions!

Last year's resolution was to drop 10 minutes of my Sprint Triathlon distance (could not do the Hyde Park Triathlon last year due to the Olympics) without increasing training quantity  just the quality; and I did it, this year I have to repeat it, well the 10 minutes part, which will not be easy, the methodology will not be entirely the same, however the quality of quantity will still be a core theme...
Did not get to race Hyde Park 2012, but did get to see the Brownlees and Gomez, and go hoarse cheering! 
First a point on last year's 10 minutes... I did not quite manage 10 minutes, but it was close enough, around  the middle of the 1:30 range to the middle of the 1:20 range! This is important as it is very easy to get obsessed in triathlon, and the whole point of this process is to prove that you can still run a normal busy life, with your friends and family not thinking you have become dull/obsessed/worse and get better at triathlons! The trick is to focus on quality and enjoy it. Going to bed at 8pm and getting up at 4:30am to train is not fun, its trying to do what Pro's do whilst trying to run a normal life and something will give.

So anyway, having got that off my chest, onto the results:

2011 saw a 1:34 (yes I know 1:34:42 is closer to 1:35 but everybody seems to state just the first part for overall time and splits and so I am sticking to it) and last 2012 a 1:26. So, 2013 needs to be in the middle of the 1:10 range, 1:17 at the very worst, so how is it going to be done? Well, sitting here recovering from flu, with the key part of my first week's training flumuxed, it does not look that easy but the key from 2012 was:
  • cutting a couple of minutes from the swim; 4th time in the wetsuit, finally getting used to it!
  • cutting 4 mins from the bike; some endurance and speed training in May
  • cutting 1 min from T2; not getting lost - free time
  • still managing to run in 5k in 26 mins (Blenheim is not flat!)

So for 2013 Blenheim training it has to be:

  • cutting the swim to 12 mins; training in the wetsuit in open water and doing more than 11 training swims! I have yet to manage to swim with my head under water in the wetsuit - this year!
  • cutting another 4-5 mins from the ride; this should not be hard, Blenheim is 3 laps, and last years results show a fast first lap, an ok 2nd lap and a weak 3rd lap - endurance training!
  • cutting the run by at least 3-4 minutes; this will be the hardest, but the one I have the most training and technique for, and the one that tends to get less interrupted by weather, work, etc.

So that's the plan, 1:15 Blenheim - how do I plan to do it?

Last year, and the year before, I had been focussing on quality rather than quantity, and it paid off. I trained nearly half the hours of my colleagues who came around my time and most importantly - was completely injury free.

Its all about the quality

2013 will be no different in terms of quantity, just the quality, so what does that mean? It means staying socially active; career, family and friends focussed, but getting fitter, the quality aspect has been sat in the back of my mind for a while but was triggered by an amazing article from Macca, or Chris McCormack's old blog where he said that amateurs make all sorts of mistakes, mostly in the run, where they knock themselves out trying to do the same runs slightly faster at zone 4, but should be doing more running either in zone 5 or zone 3: zone 3 is actually quite enjoyable: quality, and running at zone 5 is short pain but rewarding: quality again.

I leaned this early on in Business in sales as well, many people knock themselves out doing more and more work on things they think make a difference, like making calls, arranging meetings, sending more emails, but fail to look at what delivers and focus on the quality. Family and friends are the same: but a bit of effort into listening to a friend for an hour and you will get a more rewarding experience than hours, days or even weeks of playstation, beers or "hanging"... and so on.

So what's on the menu for 2013?

  • Firstly get the base miles, some long rides and zone 3 runs (I am also doing reading half marathon in March) with at least one sprint work a week. Sprint on bike is either intervals or a fast lap in Richmond park, with runs its either hill runs in Richmond or sprints in one of London's amazing parks that I am lucky enough to live near.
  • More bricks. With one of my training colleagues we have come up with a "brick" even that involves single speed cycling and hill runs: Quality! (small dose of sarcasm...) last year I did one brick in May!
  • More swimming: 2011 was appalling, I literally did 4-5 swims prior to Blenheim! last year was 11 in total I think - must swim more! More may sound like quantity over quality, but with swimming there is a big difference in that you are unlikely to injure yourself from over training, and the technique comes with practice, moreover, I do not swim anywhere near enough so a dramatic increase in quantity still only brings me to "is that all you swim!" 
  • Increase cadence flexibility: last two years have been taking me from a 60-80rpm "grinder" to being able to spin happily up to 120rpm and even 140 in sprints, however it has been at the expense of raw sprinting speed, need to get the 60-80rpm power back

The Story So far

The transition from 2011
2011 total activity
to 2012
2012  total Activity
Sees roughly the same amount of activities  however the quality aspect over quantity can be seen, in fewer hours, fewer kms, fewer meters of elevation and ultimately fewer calories to get better results! So the proof is in the pudding :) The key to these changes were doing exactly what Macca said: less beating yourself over the head in zone four, more quality at zone 3 and 4. Now this has been proven at its simplest level, these may change in 2013, as I do not have the pressure to keep the activities level as close as possible!