Monday, February 28, 2011

Are you training and recovering properly?

I attended the Philly Endurance Expo this weekend.  If you didn't know anything about Multi-sports this is/was the place to be this particular weekend.  I could tell the Expo doubled in size since last year the moment I walked in the door.  Does that tell you something about the popularity of Triathlons these days?  You think it's big now, wait until Lance (yeah the guy that rides bikes) gets back into them.  I say gets back into them because a lot of people don't know that's how he (Lance) got started- he was a triathlete.  Anyway, kudos to High Road Cycles and Liberty Sports Mag for putting on a great show. 

I normally don't go to these Expos, however, to see what the exhibitors have to sell (or should I say get RID of)- I go for the seminars.  For me, it's all about learning something.  Like last year, I attended Dr. Michael Ross's seminar.  I think Dr. Ross's seminar topic last year was "VO2max testing".  This year, it was about "Muscle Fiber training".  Regardless, I think he used the same slides..ha.  But, the important "takeaway" from this years seminar (that I want to share with you) was one particular chart/graph showing the training/recovery effects that lead to increased fitness on the bike.  I don't have this chart, so I decided to create my own (above) in MS Paint.

From the chart (above), you can see that there are 3 different training/recovery profiles an athlete can follow:  1) where the athlete either trains too hard and/or doesn't get enough recovery (red line), 2) where the athlete does the same easy training workout every day and gets the same amount of rest/recovery (black line) and 3) where the athlete trains adequately (proper volume/intensity) and gets just the right amount of rest/recovery (green line).  As athletes, I think at one time or another, we follow all 3 profiles by accident or design.  If you follow profile 1 (red line) it's either because you trained too hard or didn't get enough recovery...or worse BOTH.  If you follow profile 2 (black line), you're the typical recreational cyclist that ONLY goes out on a training/group ride twice a week.  If you follow profile 3 (green line) you're doing it just right.  And, to do it right, it's a fine balance between training easy, hard and too hard as well as too much rest, not enough rest or just the right amount. 

What's important to note (by the profile/graph) is the long term effect of proper/improper training.  If you continually follow the red line profile you can see that it leads to "overtraining" which can actually hurt your training MORE than doing nothing at all.  You can see where this would lead to a decreased fitness level.  If you follow the black line profile you can see where the same ole ride (2x/week) really doesn't do anything to improve your fitness level.  That's why some riders NEVER seem to get stronger/faster.  It's because they're either not training hard enough or they're getting TOO MUCH rest/recovery..or worse BOTH.  If you continually follow the green line profile you can see that it leads to "ideal" training where your body enters a period of "supercompensation" which is an increased level of fitness where it surpasses the intial baseline fitness level (see graph below for supercompensation).  This is how you want to train to optimize your time.  Remember, your body adapts to the load imposed on it.

So, how do you "follow the green line"?  Following the optimum (green) line is both art and science.  The "art" part comes with knowing and listening to your body. i.e. how you feel and how well you recuperate after training.  The "science" part is knowing which workouts will optimize your training well as knowing what you can do to speed-up recovery time AFTER a hard workout. (a topic for another blog)

Power ON! Coach Rob

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