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As we settle into 2022, it is a good week to have a little pause and frame the phase of training that most of Purple Patch are commencing. I want to put this phase of training into perspective of a season of racing, for those tackling events this year.
The most important word I can marry with this phase of training is patience. Too many athletes get into a rush for gains, often following a lower stress Q4 and the emergence out of the holidays. We do get to press the effort up a little now, but please remember that your personal greatness is not defined in the coming four weeks, it will emerge over a longer process. I would say there are two main aspects of this phase of training:
- Building a bedrock of conditioning
- Developing a platform to optimize returns on future endurance work.
Yes, we want to begin to develop our fitness, but success isn’t measured by the accumulation of massive mileage or duration of training. We are still in a phase of preparation for the most part, and the key tenets of training prescription are anchored in this mindset. Here is how I break it down:
- Tissue resilience: We begin to develop the chassis and resilience to withstand the training load required in the months ahead. We will chase this via running consistency, with most running being on the easier side, consistent heavier bike-trainer sessions, and increasingly demanding swims. Next week I will discuss how we weave this together to create the training intensity across swim-bike-run.
- Cardiovascular conditioning: Your fitness will begin to really climb in the coming two months, and we do chase that conditioning. Swim sessions are a big tool in global cardiovascular conditioning, and the first place we infuse harder intervals. Behind this are the ramping effort bike sessions, and the final puzzle piece is the run project (frequent and often) married with some longer duration running. Success is developing fitness, without chasing it. The coming two months should not massively deplete you via deeper fatigue accumulation.
- Build the engine: The final part of the mindset is leaning into a greater ratio of harder intervals. In the coming weeks you can expect high intensity on the bike, as well as the emerging prevalence of the special sauce. Yes, the low cadence and high torque strength-endurance sessions. These take focus, but combining these intervals with shorter and high intensity work is laying the bedrock to amplify yield from the extended duration intervals arriving in several weeks time.
From a season planning mindset, this means that our optimal timing for early season races will come toward the end of Q1 or the initial month of Q2. You won’t be in race specific mode yet, but fitness, tissue resilience and your power profile will be strong. Early season races are super low-pressure additions to the journey, without needing to specifically prepare for that exact race. I encourage you to think long-term, and season plan the arc of your training, with earlier races holding excitement but not obsession. You will be surprised at how well early season races can go, despite having the understandable feeling that ‘you haven’t done enough’. Go into early season races without expectation, which is different from low expectations or not caring. Commit to giving your all, and remain open to the potential that you can actually do quite well.
I hope that helps.