February Update – Performing to your capability and how Physiological testing may help

As promised, my once a month view of the world. On my easy sessions I listen to a lot of podcasts and let the miles pass by trying to gain some knowledge or getting to hear different view points when something triggers in my mind that says “this is good, I need to pass this information on to our athletes” or we are out training when we discuss a point and I think the same. You can’t really plan these things….but this months comes from  a mixed bag of results from generally run races that have happened over the last few weeks.

Some of the things I say I might hit a nerve with some of you, or at least create some thought provoking. It’s not about pointing out any person, because we all have different levels of experience and are differing stages on the journey.

For many, we are 3-4 months down the line into training from the end of last season. This is the 1st week of some improving weather and being able to get out on the bikes comfortably, and it starts to feel like the Tri Season is finally starting to get nearer. Understandably we want to test some of our fitness, the easiest thing to do is a run race. On an importance scale I’d say these races are a 5/10. Not that important, but it does give you a feel for how your athlete is progressing and well they are absorbing the training and progressing. How relevant is a 10k run versus the last 10 miles of an IM? Not that important….but you aren’t running a 3hr IM run split if you can’t go well and truly under 40 mins in a 10k. FACT.

As I said, we had a mix of results from the weekend. Some athletes nailed it. Went exactly what they are capable of doing. At Wrexham Phil & Zoe were at the 10 mile mark watching. Athletes that looked like they were down & out absolutely on the rivet (sorry Joe!) but somehow pulled it off in those very last 3 miles and took over 30 secs out of the group they were running with. Perfectly executed, the data says they were on the limit the whole way round and you couldn’t have asked for anymore. If you look at the training, consistent every week, practically hitting 99% of what is set. When its time to go hard, whether in training or at a race, they are present, they are willing and nothing side tracks them from it. When you cheer them, you just get a distant stare back. Its about all they can muster. 

Now not everybody is either fit enough or can get themselves into this zone, but we all should be aiming to improve on this. It may take many years to develop this ability and some races may be better than others, but wherever you are there are things you can do to help so speak to your coach, and be honest about where you think you can improve.

Here are a couple of things that went wrong at the weekend…

1. Training inconsistent / just not done the mileage – Expectaion higher than reality. Half marathons are tough, and you will be caught out. Be honest with yourself if this was you. You still have a chance to turn things around before the Triathlon race season

2. Hard is Hard. And some athletes were probably at 80% of their capability. You are still learning this game. It will take time to bring your mental game up to the level of your physical ability. Opening your mind to what is possible is one of the hardest things to overcome.

3. Nutrition in lead up / Race Plan – Racing at 95% for 75-90 mins is Carb hungry, you are guzzling it like there is no tomorrow, and there is a chance you will have to top it up to get to the finish. LCHF diets are very hard to get right and perform at this stuff. But you still need to get carb load in days leading up to and on race morning. Eating a bit of fat/protein 4 hrs before your race is not enough to get through this race. Whilst not claiming to be a nutrition expert in any way what so ever, I think the strategy works for easy training in the morning to help become more efficient at fat burning but you have to be very good at it, to do run a half marathon in this state. 

4. Starting too fast / Pace judgement and awareness. In the world of gadgets and paces / powers. There are a lot of athletes that do not know RPE 1-10. It takes a watch to tell them, and this can change day by day based on how you feel. Getting a better understanding of how you are feeling will really help you, especially in longer races. You can lose a hell of a lot of time in the last few miles of a 70.3 / Ironman when you’ve started too fast.

If any of this hits home, then let me tell you. It applies to every single one of us to some degree. Some might be further down the line than others, but you can always improve on something.

Which brings me on nicely to Physiological Testing. Whilst Training peaks does a nice job of estimating training zones based on certain testing criteria, everybody is individual with how to train to maximise their return. The most accurate way to do this is Physiological Testing to measure blood lactate / gas analysis and therefore metabolic rate at certain speeds or power and Vo2 max. The next level of individual training is to go through this process and from time to time be retested and ensure we are heading in the right direction. It links very nicely with the above, we will start to know what paces and powers we should be able to achieve and really dial in how we best get ourselves ready for racing. We have teamed up with a number of places that will be able to do this for us and should be available in the next 2-3 weeks. If interested, please get in start to get in touch with your coaches….


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