Monday, December 6, 2010

Training Naked!

Back then they really trained naked!

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?

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7 comments:

C-Note said...

I swim naked. I bike and run with my Timex Global TRainer, but mostly so I can look at the map after my workout (cool!) and see how much time I lost on this climb, compared to the last workout.

It offers a great pace-function which I enjoy the option of utilizing, whether I actually do or not.

STEVE FLECK said...

I am a map geek to. Always go to Google map before or after a ride to see where I am going or where I have been.

Thanks for reading.

SF

Caroline said...

I agree with what you are saying; for a couple of years I used a heart monitor and was so worried about hitting a certain number no matter what; I wasn't listening to my body and how it felt that day. I have since stopped using the monitor and now listen to my body; if I feel good I go for it; if I feel lousy I take it easier; less injuries and better workouts in my opinion; All I use is my simple Timex watch that says how long I have been running, cycling or running in the water for.
I enjoy reading your blogs!

rappstar said...

Two things. First thing, blog is not a proper noun. It's just "blog," not "Blog."

Secondly, on the topic of what you actually wrote here: 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.

What powermeters, GPS, etc. do is reduce the amount of trial and error it takes to find the edge. GPS and power don't change the process at all. They just make it more efficient. You aren't alone in your misconception though. Plenty of people blame the tools for the psychological failings of the user.

You write near the end, 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.

Where do you think those carefully scripted spreadsheets based on numbers and limits and zones come from? They come from the exact process of trial and error you describe. Only when you actually quantify that process, you make it consistent, logical, repeatable, and a whole lot more efficient.

You can build a house just as sturdily with only a hammer, but you can build it a whole lot faster *and with equivalent sturdiness* using a pneumatic nailgun. Both are just tools. If the house falls down, it's not the fault of the tool; it's the fault of the builder. Like many "old school" folks, you blame the technology. Put the blame where it belongs - on the athlete. If you train foolishly, it won't make any difference if you train naked or don't. And if you train intelligently, all the tools will do is make your training even better.

If you want to hammer away on something, hammer away on people's inability to actually LISTEN to their GPS or PowerMeter. If your best/fastest run in training was done at speed X, you aren't gonna go 25% faster in a race, though plenty of people try. Same thing with a powermeter. If you actually listen to the data, it's the same as listening to your legs/heart/breathing/etc. It's just another input.

Training naked doesn't mean training without technology. Training naked means training without delusions. You should try THAT, since it seems that you may be handcuffed by either your use technology or your inability to use it. Or both.

STEVE FLECK said...

Jordan,

Thank you for your detailed comments. I have noticed that this is the same as your comments on the Slowtwitch Forum and I have responded there.

SF

STEVE FLECK said...

Caroline,

Thanks for reading.

Glad to hear what you are doing is working for YOU. That's what is most important here.

SF

Steve Stenzel said...

I just use a watch with rough mile markers in my head.

I think people rely on music too much, but that's for another rant....