Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 13

Ok, time to prattle again.  Previously, in Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 11 and Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 12, I looked in some detail at my post-race analysis of my performance at the Texas Road Rash, what I had determined and how I had set up my training to address the problems leading into the next major event, the Chicagoland Inline Marathon.

In short I had decided that I had a power/top speed problem along with some skills deficits and had divided my training into two 6 week blocks with a bike focus in the first 6 weeks and a skate focus in the second six weeks.  The focus was on driving up my power outputs on the bike (with some targeted interval and tempo work) along with some neuromuscular work on my skates for top speed and sprinting (essentially to teach my body how to use increased power outputs skating at high speeds).  In those articles, I laid out my specific training and the progress I made over the first 6 week block.  Read ’em.

And now it’s time for the next update.  Specifically I’ll you how and why I laid out my second six week block and taper leading up into the Chicagoland race and I’ll do this partly today finishing up on Friday.  First  I want to talk about the event itself, what implications that had for my training, and what I did and why during the weeks leading up to it.  Of course, I’ll talk about what worked, what didn’t and there will be a race report forthcoming once I get back from the Windy City.

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The Tour of Chicago

The Chicagoland Inline Marathon actually consists of several different events (ranging from fun skates to the individual marathon); more interesting to me was an event it included called the Tour of Chicago.  This was an event that in cycling is called an Omnium (an event including a bunch of different types of racing) and specifically in this case it included three races across two days.  If nothing else this would make travelling worthwhile.  Here are the events that comprise the tour.

The first race is a 10k pack race on Saturday.  This was part of the draw of the event for me since I’ve been wanting to do a 10k inline race for over a decade for personal reasons.  And, as it turned out, the Atlanta event that normally is the only 10k in the country got cancelled this year (which was good for me since I wanted to do the Tour De Austin bike race locally the same weekend).  The second race is a 2 individual mile time trial done a few hours after the 10k on Saturday.  Finally the full marathon would be raced Sunday morning with the overall results being based on placing in each of the three events. This would be a hellish weekend no matter how you cut it.

If nothing else, this meant that, along with the weaknesses I was trying to fix, I would have to prepare a bit more comprehensively for this event due to the differences in races and what they would require.   At least travelling would be worth it.  Let me look at each event briefly.

Average 10k times are in the 15-16 minute range (the world record is something insane like 13 minutes) and it’s basically all out from the gun to the tape.  I anticipated a sprint start into a consistent effort at or even slightly above lactate threshold probably ending in a pack sprint unless someone managed to get away.  It’d be fast and hard but over quickly.  This would rely primarily on my 20′ power/FTP levels with both the fast start and any sprint I can eke out at the end.

The 2 mile time trial should have a finish time in the 4-6 minute range depending on the skater.  That would mean a hard start/fast acceleration to get up to speed and then what would be a pure Vo2 max effort for the distance (VO2 max can be sustained for 5-8 minutes) with a surge at the end to finish strong.

Finally is the marathon, an hour fifteen or so of hell with what I expected to be similar race dynamics to the Road Rash.  A fast start to get out of the pack (at least they would be racing different groups at different times here), some bits of sitting in, some accelerations and breaks, too much time at or near threshold leading most likely into a final pack sprint.  This would require a bit of everything including endurance, threshold, covering breaks, the fast start, and any sprint finish.

Now, in Omnium type events, the overall placings are determined by how you do in each individual event.  In this case, points were given out for placings in each event and tallied up.  As well, placing in the 10k determined what position you started the time trial in.

Make no mistake, after the events of the Road Rash I had no real ideas of being anywhere in the placings, my top speed and such still needed too much work to get me there in the elite category.  But I certainly wanted to do my best at each of the events if I was bothering to make the trip and race them all.

What this all meant was that I had to train to cover a lot of eventualities in terms of different types of training and racing.  It was sort of a lucky coincidence as it all sort of fit in with what I was trying to improve anyhow.

To whit, my overall endurance and sustainability/aerobic engine were more than fine since that had been my focus for so long.  I simply needed the sprint, threshold, top speed and VO2 max efforts which were all aspects of building my top end that I’d been focusing on anyhow.   Assuming I survived the second training block, I’d come out of it a lot more well rounded skater (and cyclist) than I had been at the Road Rash.  All of this nonsense this year had also made me reassess what I’d do going into the 2012 season but that’s another article for another day.

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The Training Plan

As I mentioned above (and detailed in Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 12), I had divided up my 12 weeks of training into two six week blocks with the first 6 weeks focused on the bike and now it was time to set things up for the more skate specific training while working on everything I needed to work on.

That meant redeveloping at least some skate-specific endurance for the marathon distance (while my general endurance was unaffected, skate specific stuff goes away pretty quickly) along with continuing to work on starts/acceleration and top speed (although of secondary importance).

I’d continue to use the bike for some physiological development and was going to start regular bike racing for both race/pack experience and to get in one hell of a good workout.  As driven as I am, pushing myself to my limits training by myself is far more difficult than in a race situation; simply, racing brings out your best (this is why most athletes use early races to really get into form).

My previously weekly schedule, consisting of 5 training days per week (and 8 total training units) seemed to have worked pretty well from an overall workload/recovery standpoint, especially given that one of the days/week was more or less active recovery.  I had adapted to the training load and only felt beaten up right about the time I wanted to deload.  So I opted to stick with that and plugged in my workouts as follows.   I’ll look at the purpose and sequencing of each afterwards.

 

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
AM OFF IL: Tempo B: Aerobic SB: Sprint OFF IL: Tempo SB: Aerobic
PM B: Threshold B: Driveway Series B: Interval

Notes: B = bike, IL = inline, SB = slideboard

Monday and Friday remained my days off although I usually used those to take ALFIE! on an extra long walk and/or go the Austin Humane Shelter for an extra shift.  That got me some active recovery and I’m one of those people who sticks to their eating patterns better on days with at least something approximating exercise.  He didn’t mind the extra activity either although it’s awful hot.

Tuesday and Saturday morning were my key inline workouts with the primary focus on duration; as I’ve noted skating puts me pretty much at tempo intensity unless I skate in such a way as to do really strange things technically or go pointlessly slow.  It’s just that kind of sport (apparently kayaking is similar).  Both workouts have elements of Fartlek and speed changes as well just as a function of the courses.  It’s not just steady state skating even if that’s more or less what I shoot for.

Tuesday’s bike ride was true threshold work bordering on VO2 max work.  Rather than work from the bottom up which was grinding me down mentally and physically (60-90 minutes tempo indoors is just awful), I opted to start at a higher intensity and try to add time and/or increase the wattage (moving towards true VO2 max intensities) or both.

Wednesday was just basic aerobic maintenance, 60-90 minutes at aerobic intensities.  A combination of endurance maintenance, recovery and just to burn a shedload of calories (since I was still working towards a specific body composition/body weight goal).  I dropped the high speed spinning, my legs were usually torched and I felt that I had gotten all out of the drills that I had to get out of them.

Thursday’s morning inline sprint workout was pretty much what I had done in the previous block: a short warm-up to 3 crazy starts, 3 standing starts and then 6 interval repeats with full rest to work on acceleration and top speed.  I’d increase the length of the intervals and cut volume over the block to work more on speed endurance.

Thursday night was the Driveway Series, a local pseudo-crit (it’s held on a car race course and there are few true crit corners) held every week here in Austin.  The Cat 4/5 race is 30 minutes so I’d warm-up for about 30 minutes, do the race and and then cool down for another 10 minutes.  The race is fast and hard and includes some sprints, climbs, some anaerobic stuff, puts me in the pack.  Just pure racing and a great workout to boot.

It wasn’t ideal doing it after a morning sprint workout (or at the end of the three day block) but since bike racing is secondary for me right now, I didn’t mind this taking a hit to put my sprint workout where I wanted it.  I was using it as much to get in a good quality workout with race dynamics as to actually race and be competitive.

Saturday’s bike workout was more intervals although at a reduced volume since I was getting interval work on Thursday morning on my skates and more quality work in the race on Thursday night; I was just distributing my total volume across the workouts.  I wanted to keep building towards my 1′ power goal to keep pulling my fitness ‘up’ from the top end and keep developing my relatively weak anaerobic power/capacity (this has become a new very long-term goal since it’s limiting me).

Finally was Sunday.  In the previous block this had been a group bike ride but I decided to make it another skating day although indoors on the slideboard.  I knew I’d be too trashed for another group bike ride (my training was already high on intensity) and since I can’t skate outdoors at a low heart rate, I decided to keep this inside.  Basically, it was my skating equivalent of the ‘long run’ that marathoners do.

It would also get me used to skating two days in a row (and tired after a Saturday morning skate and afternoon bike ride).  If nothing else my low back needed the stress to be ready to survive Chicago and this was a form of race modeling (shorter skate Saturday morning, intervals Saturday night, long skate Sunday morning).

Admittedly, the above schedule was going to be tough.  I had three hard days (Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday), two easy days (Wednesday/Sunday) and two days off which I hoped I’d survive.  But it was also a short training block and you can get away with a lot in the short-term.  And having learned my lesson, even as I drew it up I had no problem inserting a relative recovery week in the middle if I needed it.

And I’ll cut things here today.  On Friday, I’ll talk about how the block went and my taper going into Chicago.  Then, another exciting race report.  Or something.

Read Methods of Endurance Training: 2011 Season Part 14

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