Whether you train with a coach, on your own, or use a pre-written program, you are going to need to adjust your training program at times. General fatigue, lack of time, and life in general will always play a role in preventing training and missing training days. So what do you do? The good news is a few days missed will not affect training at all. It will throw you off a little both physically and mentally but there are ways to adjust.
To make gains in fitness, daily consistent hard work to build training stress (and fatigue) is necessary in order to create the need for the body to adapt. How you adapt to the fatigue will solely depend on how you train, and what systems you targeted. Adapting, the part of training most commonly overlooked, all depends on how well you recover from the training fatigue you have accumulated. Individual responses to training stress may differ, depending on genetics and fitness levels; however, there will always be an individual limit to the level of fatigue that can be handled before you lose the ability to adapt to any amount of training stress.
The General Adaptation Syndrome, a three phase response to physiological stress, was introduced by Canadian biologist Hans Selye in 1936. John Garhammer, Ph.D., a specialist in biomechanics and physiology, later took Hans Seley’s work and applied it to resistance training and exercise conditioning. The work of Selye and Garhammer established the groundwork for learning how the human body reacts to training stress, and more importantly, how it adapts.
Let’s discuss and apply the three phases of the General Adaptation Syndrome (the alarm, resistance and exhaustion phase) to endurance training.
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To do well as an endurance athlete, season goals need to be set early to provide the motivation needed to train hard. It takes a long time to build endurance and reach peak fitness levels, so the sooner you start with setting goals, the better. Your goals can be loose, precise, large or small, just as long as they create the desire to work hard. Most importantly, season goals should be set around something you love to do.
Since the invention of the wireless heart rate monitor in the late 1970’s1, heart rates have been widely used by athletes, coaches and exercise enthusiasts as an important guide to training intensity. Heart rate training has been viewed in many ways over the years, from very precise to not so precise. Now, a growing number of coaches and exercise physiologists support the use of heart rates as an important part of biological feedback, as heart rates are a direct reflection of what is happening internally. In order to understand how heart rate plays a key role in training, you must understand the trends and variables that are associated with it.
We all know that cycling indoors is not as pleasurable as it is outdoors on the roads and trails. Being stationary and not experiencing momentum may play a large role in why indoor exercise is not as stimulating. But for many, indoor workouts are the only option certain times of the year. The cold temperatures of winter and the hot temperatures of summer will force anyone who deals with either extreme indoors to ride. So, for those of you who deal with being forced indoors, here are five ways to improve the quality of your workout.
The Use of Power
Power meters are a great tool to use while indoors. Using power allows you to gauge your effort easier than with heart rates alone. Heart rate is a great tool indoors and out, but heart rate is not as precise as power. When exercising indoors, there is advantage to being more precise. Using power will help you maintain steadier efforts, which will provide a greater challenge and more benefit. The more specific you can be while training indoors, the more it will benefit you when you’re back outside on the bike. Continue reading
If you have ever dealt with a stomach issue while racing, then you have experienced the gut wrenching, painful, disappointing feeling it brings. Once you are dealing with a stomach issue, there is little you can do and no quick solution. Slowing down to allow digestion to take place is one solution but to stop racing may be the only answer if the pain is severe. The best way to avoid stomach issues, otherwise known as the dreaded gut rot, is to prevent it. In this article we will discuss a few aspects of racing that can lead to stomach issues.
Poor pacing can easily lead to stomach issues, especially when you are competing in long duration events. The longer the event, the more need for food and water and the more important pacing becomes, especially for events that last from 7-10 hours. Too many intense surges during these longer events can easily lead to stomach issues. When you surge and work a higher intensity, even for a few minutes, you create an increased need for blood flow to the working muscles and to cool the body. That leaves less blood flow for digestion. Continue reading
Spring is fast approaching and athletes everywhere are starting to think about key races to do well at and secondary races to use for training and motivation. Lower priority, B and C races, are commonly used earlier in the season, but these races can also be used throughout the year for training and more. Secondary races provide experience, training benefits, and as a stage to assess your early or mid-season form. So, targeting a handful of races throughout the year to use as a learning experience, in addition to training, is a good idea.
A race environment is unique in many ways. From the arrival to the finish line, a race can be a nerve wracking experience, especially when you realize there are a few hundred to a few thousand others looking to do the same thing as you. Gaining experience in this environment is important to helping you feel more comfortable, confident and able to avoid distractions leading up to and during the race. Athletes commonly get psyched out over the looks or attitude of their competition, creating self-doubt and a loss of focus. Practice and experience will help you avoid these types of distractions the day of the race. Continue reading
Most, if not all, athletic movements require you to activate your core group of muscles to help complete the movement. From a quarterback’s throw to the pedal stroke of a cyclist, your core provides you with the stability and power needed through every motion. Every time you lift your leg, you rely on core muscles to do so. Each time you hop a log with a bicycle, ride through technical terrain, or make a turn, you rely on core muscles. So during a long ride or a race, a core that fatigues fast will lead to weaker legs, upper torso, and arms, which will lead to a loss of power, loss of coordination, and a slower effort. A weaker core will ultimately reduce your overall potential as an athlete.
Building endurance requires a repetitive movement such as the repetitive movements used to run or ride a bike. When you think about it, while you’re running or riding your bike, your legs are moving anywhere between 4000 to 6000 repetitions an hour. That’s a lot of movement. Moving your legs that often over hours and hours of time builds endurance. Continue reading
The thought of fall racing is like the flick of a switch when cooler weather arrives. The need for arm warmers, light jackets, and lights are all fun thoughts to have. I like to think about the change in scenery, riding my bike or running in a new atmosphere, as well as what type of training I need to focus on. So, whether your goals are to prepare for shorter events such as cyclocross races on the bike or a half marathon on foot, you are going to need to be extra smart. A full year of training will provide plenty of wear and tear to your body.
Entering into the fall season and continuing to train with the same amount of volume and intensity is not wise. The body can only handle so much training stress in one season whether your limits are to race 20-30 times a year or 5-10 times a year. The goal for most is to push individual limits for the season, which means you are going to build a good amount of fatigue mentally and physically.
If the year has been a busy one with races and training, you are going to need to reduce your volume of training as you transition into fall. A primary goal should be to focus on shorter, harder efforts with plenty of easy days, and recovery days. This will help elicit further gains in top end power. If your year has been a light one with fewer races or hours, you may be able to handle more volume and intensity in the late season but you will still need to be smart about it. Continue reading
Dealing with the heat, at least initially, is always an issue. I think it is fair to say that most if not all endurance athletes have experienced some degree of cramps at one time or another, and most likely while racing or training on a hot humid day. Even those who live in hot climates need to acclimate somewhat to the hotter conditions of the mid-summer months of June, July and August, especially if you plan to race during that time.
When it is hot, especially when temps are in the 90-100F (36-40C) range, your body needs to work harder to keep your core temperatures in a safe range to allow the organs to function normally.
One of the ways your body keeps cool is by circulating blood to the skin. This allows the internal heat building inside to be transferred to the environment. Core temperatures of 104F (40C) have been observed with marathon athletes. So, transferring heat to the outside plays an important role in helping your core keep cool. Continue reading