Monday, December 6, 2010
Do you train naked?
Not talking about training in the nude - sans clothes, although I am sure there are some who do that to! Make sure you use sunscreen! What I am talking about here, is training without all the modern training and monitoring tools that almost everyone seems to be using these days - heart rate monitors, power-meters, GPS units and so on. Some also call this training blind.
I came of age as an endurance athlete back when none of these tools where around. Training tended to revolve around pace and time. These were the guide-lines and benchmarks that we used. Race-results were how we measured progress. The stop-watch and the results sheet don't lie! If we were going out for a 2 hour ride, we noted the fact that we had been out about an hour with our Timex watch, and it was time to turn for home. Simple! That was as about as advanced as we got.
I recall winning a nice Polar heart-rate monitor (HRM) a number of years ago, when I won a 5K running road race. I was interested to see what it was like training with it. Having taken Human Physiology at university and at that point having trained for over 10 years at a moderate level, I was familiar with the different zones and the importance of them in training. After doing some testing with the new HRM and finding out my maximum heart-rate through some field testing, I was able to establish what my zones were and what my heart rate ranges for each zone.
Remarkably, all my key training paces for both bike and run, matched up almost exactly with the key heart rate zones established for training. I had been using the various zones and knowing exactly what they were, by knowing how my body felt at those efforts and levels of intensity, and what the effort felt like, with the only outside input being a wrist-watch!
In a previous blog I talked about running frequency - runs/week - and how this was a great way to establish a solid base of running fitness. You could easily sub-in cycling or swimming to that frequency program as well. In that Blog I suggested that people, not worry too much about how they are running, the pace, the time, the heart-rate, and just run. Run so that you will be able to repeat that run the next day, and the day after that, and the . . . and so on. If you do this enough, in any sport, with a bit of trial and error you will find that edge, of where you can push it a little bit, but not go over. This is key - to find that true edge of your aerobic and endurance fitness and surf along it for little bits of time, and start to extend the time spent at the edge, based on feel. Why is this important? Because, this is what you are doing when you are racing - finding that edge, and then trying to maintain the maximum effort/pace for the distance that you are racing.
To newer athletes who have started up training exclusively with HRM's and power-meters on the bike and carefully scripted spread-sheet training programs based on numbers, limits and zones, this may seem absurd and a bit scary, but if you start training naked and based on feel, you will start to develop a very tuned-in sense, of how you are breathing, your stride or pedal rate, your turnover in swimming, how your legs and muscles feel, at that level of effort. You'll know, and that's a really good thing. The off-season, which is now for many triathletes, runners and cyclists, is a great time of year to try this. Just, run, or ride or swim. Go easy. Go hard. Find the edge. Note how you feel and what's going on with your body.
Do you train naked?
If you like what you see here, please feel free to share this blog with your preferred sharing app on the buttons below.