In the third installment of coach Tom’s blog series on using the FSA Coaching principles to train for the Ironman 70.3 NZ in March, we look at the use of intelligent and targeted training to make the most of the time and the tools available to you.
You’re all busy people, right? You’d love to have 35 hours a week to train, just like the pros do. Heck, you might even be as good as them if you trained that much…
But anyway, in the real world you’ve probably got about half the time that you’d really like to train and even then it’s early in the morning or late at night when all the other priorities are sorted. And that’s OK. I totally get this. There are those who are lucky enough to be in a position to put their training above everything else in there life. For the rest of us, we have to make our training and race work as part of our wider life and responsibilities.
We want to get the most bang for our buck and that’s where intelligent and targeted training comes in. Intelligent and targeted training, in this context, means:
- Training at the right intensities (which means a bit more testing than you might like…)
- Using training time efficiently and effectively
- Tracking progress and using feedback to tweak and refine
- Using (but not being a slave to) gadgets, tech and data
Here at FSA Coaching, we’re big on the use of data, feedback and testing to get the most from our training. We use TrainingPeaks, which is a fantastic tool for planning, monitoring and tracking progress. It allows our athletes to track their training, see what they’ve got coming up, make sure they’re training at the right intensities and, probably most importantly, provide a subjective comment on how a training session felt.
But as with any data-driven method, the outputs are only as good as the data you put in. And that’s where the testing and intensity-setting comes in. As part of any well planned training programme, it’s critical to test regularly to see how things are going and to tweak training intensities. We try to test every 4-6 weeks (maybe a little less frequently for FTP testing – it hurts…) as part of a regular cycle of periodised training. Tweaking intensities makes sure we’re always pushing the ceiling up a little higher.
- We regularly test our athletes for:
- Critical Swim Speed (CSS);
- Functional Threshold Power (FTP); and
- Threshold run pace.
In my build up to Ironman 70.3 NZ in March next year, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’ve been swimming my 3x300m CSS tests in the pool, suffering through the FTP test on Zwift and running threshold tests at the track.
With each test, I’m using the feedback to amend my training zones (hopefully upwards…!) for swimming, biking and running. I’m using the cold, hard facts of the results from my training and testing to build confidence that the training is working and I’m heading in the right direction.
In the next blog, I’ll update you on some of the early season events I’ve been using to tweak and refine the race plan before the big race goals later in the summer.