Balancing Peak Performance with Life.
by Daryl Smith, PT
USA Triathlon Coach
- Balancing training with life
- The Key Workouts Strategy (KWS)
- Race-specific KWs
- Insuring recovery between KWs
The essence of the KW strategy: “Never forget that endurance training and competition are supposed to nurture good health and well being, not compromise it. Any workout decision that compromises health in any way is unacceptable. When you push your body with a long or hard workout, you do it at a time when your body is ready to absorb and benefit from it.” –Brad Kearns
Balancing Training with Life
- You cannot plan training in a vacuum, all aspects of life must be considered.
- Stress (physical or mental) outside of training will have a direct effect on your training performance and recovery.
- During periods of high stress, we must increase rest to allow absorption of our training.
“We must take into account all life stresses—for the average athlete with many responsibilities, less training usually produces better athletic performances than trying to accumulate many miles and hours of training.” -Dr. Philip Maffetone
Vital components of a Plan
The Key Workouts Strategy
- KWs applied
- 1-2 KWs per week (not including swimming).
- KWs must simulate the demands of your goal race (distance, pace, terrain, etc.)
- Periodize KWs, general fitness (base) to specific fitness (specific prep).
- Seek peak performance in all KWs.
- Focus must be on thorough recovery for and from your KWs.
- Frequency of key workouts depending on recovery ability, make your training fit your recovery, not the calendar.
- Weekly volume is a result of your KW volume and recovery state and should never be the goal.
- Annual Training Plan (ATP)
- Phase 1: Base—requires A LOT of patience to develop this most important part of our fitness.
- Phase 2: Specific Prep/taper—pace and overspeed sets.
- Phase 3: Rest
- Repeat on micro level for second peak of the year.
- Intensity zones
- Keep it simple
- Base work <80% of Maximum HR (determined from max HR in a 5k): Lower HR training is fundamental to building a solid foundation in health and endurance.
- Specific Prep training HRs are based on goal race efforts.
- Plan periodization around “A” race requirements.
- Sprint and Olympic Distance: Ability to hold effort at or above Lactate Threshold for 1-2+ hours, and transition between the events without hesitation.
- Half Ironman: Hold steady effort up to LT -10 bpm, and recover from occasional segments up to LT (hills, surges, etc.)
- Ironman: Endurance, strength, and durability to pace effort over 8-17 hours without slowing down.
“An oft forgotten fact about triathlon is that races take only one day, or a fraction of one day, to complete. A triathlon is not a seven day stage race, so there is no need to pound your body in training day after day to prepare for it. The challenge then becomes how to absorb your training optimally and how to target your race experience in your training.”—Brad Kearns
- In a race that lasts one hour, 98% of energy still comes from aerobic metabolism. Without a deep aerobic base, ultimate potential will be severely limited.
- Swim: Lesser of 1-1.5x swim distance or 1.5 hours, improving stroke form and efficiency.
- Bike: Lesser of 1-1.5x total event duration or 8 hours, building overall endurance and sport specific strength.
- Run: Lesser of 1-1.5x run distance or 3 hours, with emphasis on perfect form and negative splits.
- Exceptions for elites with good mechanics.
- Short training races every 4-6 weeks during base.
“You must consider every single workout you conduct for the rest of your life to be a wonderful privilege not to be abused.”—Brad Kearns
Race-Specific KWs—Sprint and Olympic Distance Specific Prep
- ½ up to full race distance TTs in each sport.
- Shorter training races (multisport or individual).
- Brick repeats (brbrbr) with focus on building pace throughout and quick transitions.
- Fartlek (4:1 to 1:1), hill repeats, intervals.
- Effort is at or slightly faster than goal RP (no need to do 75 second 400m repeat runs if your goal is a 40’ 10k).
Race-Specific KWs—Half Iron Distance Specific Prep
- Shorter distance races (multisport or individual).
- Race simulations
- R45’/B2.5 hrs/R45’ w/ IM to HIM pace sets.
- B2 hrs/R1 hr at goal HIM effort, including overspeed for elites.
- Big days: S30’/B3-4 hrs/R30’ spread over predicted race duration. - Progressive rides/runs.
Race-Specific KWs—Iron Distance Specific Prep
- Race simulation bikes: 1/3IMP, run 30-60’ off the bike to test pacing.
- 4 hour steady state ride to test pace/HR coupling.
- Bricks (straight bricks or BRBR).
- Big Days (S1—EZ/B5—IMP/R1—EZ) spread over predicted duration of the event.
- Overspeed days (example: bike 5 hrs tempo w/ speed, run 2 hours tempo w/ speed).
- Recovery days should be limited to 15-90 minutes at an effort of 65% MHR or less.
- Volume based on individual recovery ability.
- To conduct key workouts successfully means that all other workouts (recovery sessions) must be of the fill-in-the-blanks nature and that you do whatever it takes to insure thorough recovery for and from KWs.
- Emphasize skills, economy, relaxation, fun.
- The foremost guide to making daily workout decisions is your intuition, not a predetermined schedule.
- The schedule therefore becomes a flexible, dynamic entity allowing for adjustments around life’s requirements and fatigue levels.
Breakthrough Triathlon Training by Brad Kearns
Training for Endurance by Philip Maffetone