February. A month so depressing they chopped its end off. New resolutions have fizzled out and Christmas and new year parties are distant memories; summer holidays seem a looong time away.
But it’s also winter training season. A great opportunity to get some solid training miles in. Solid training miles without the distraction of races. Solid training miles without any need to be on form. No pressure to beat PBs or be in shape. Eat those cakes and chug away!
After my new year resolution to run more, I’ve managed to build up to a consistent 50km a week with a couple of bike rides and a swim or two. I’ve followed some useful advice from one of the coaches at Leeds & Bradford tri club. Simon Ward has been shouting about polarised training recently. Essentially, training most of the time at a easy pace so that your body is ready once or twice a week for an extremely hard workout.
At first I thought this was ridiculous. When I started I followed the “smash everything” rule. But I gave it a go and now, if I knock it off a bit on most days, I can smash it hard on the others.
So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve got up to 64k a week running and 100km on the bike which looks something like this:
∙ Monday – run commute (10k each way with a bag)
∙ Tuesday – cycle commute and paceline then a 5km brick
∙ Wednesday – complete rest or on the roller to massage those sore glutes!
∙ Thursday – if I’m fresh again then it’s my favourite which is lunchtime intervals on the canal. On a three week rotation it’s one of:
∙ 4 x 2k at 7:00 with 90 seconds rest
∙ 10 x 400m at 1:15 with 60 seconds rest
∙ 6 x 1k at 3:20 with 60 seconds rest
∙ Friday – gentle jog
∙ Saturday – either a parkrun, a rest or a gentle spin to a local cafe with the FTR boys
∙ Sunday – a tough day: either a cross country running race with my club Abbey Runners or a solid reliability ride, 100k of leg-ripping on the bike topped up with a steady swim in the afternoon.
And how is all that working out? Pretty well to be honest. I feel a little quicker when I’m fresh but the fatigue is starting to accumulate. I’m rolling as often as I can which makes a massive difference (again, I’m a late convert!).
I’ve stuck to my routine but it’s getting harder to maintain the intensity and volume. After a particularly hard week last week, including a paceline during storm Doris, I hit the wall. After 400km of running and 1,000km on the bike in 2017, morale was low, energy was low and I knew it was time to back off a bit. I also knew I had a Parkrun event coming up with my tri club on the Saturday and Alba Rosa reli ride on the Sunday.
So I took a couple of days off, for the first time since before Christmas. Let my body recover and had a few beers and chocolate cake. My focus is the European duathlon championships at the end of April so there’s plenty of time to bounce back and a mini break should consolidate all the gains.
Anyway, it turns out that I got first place at the Temple Newsam Parkrun! My legs felt pretty fresh and despite the hills and knocking off the pace a little on the second lap I managed to cross the line in 18:18. Result!
So what did I learn? Well, if you start to hurt mentally as well as physically then you should just knock it off and you’ll soon bounce back stronger than ever!
Featured header photo courtesy of Simon and used under Creative Commons licence