Ironman Training – Spring Mistakes
Alun “Woody” Woodward, Coach, ironguides.net
Spring is a time of growth in nature and a time of booming enthusiasm among athletes. After the cold dark winter months the nights are getting longer and the temperature is heading north, no longer are we waking up or finishing work with the prospect of training in the dark. This alone gives us a huge motivation boost but also the lighter days are signalling race season is right around the corner.
Having trained well all winter and in good shape we need to take a step back and make sure we do not get carried away with this boost in motivation. Your training plan may well have changed to coincide with the arrival of spring and the impending race season and with these changes there are some often ignored elements that need to be taken into consideration.
One of the biggest mistakes being made at this time of year is with nutrition, a sudden rush among athletes to get to race weight usually means a reduction in calories. In general you are going to be training a little more and with more intensity in your spring program, if you add these 2 elements to your training program and then restrict calories you are going to be setting yourself up for a problem pretty quickly.
As you ramp up your training you need to also ramp up your calorie intake, the more intensity in your program the more the calories need to maintain the workload, the increase in training load will slowly take care of getting you to race weight without the need for restricting calories. Always have in the back of your mind you want to be at race weight for your main race not your first race unless they are one and the same! A slow progression to race weight is always the best.
Having said this judging how many calories you need is a hard one to judge so how do you know if your not getting enough? Look for the following symptoms and act upon them!
Feeling more cold than normal
If your feeling cold more than normal and others around you are not noticing this then its a sure sign your not getting enough calories by a long shot!
Have you become the GRUMP
Have you found yourself becoming grumpy at times when everything seems to be going se well for you, no idea why your feeling like this – its quite simple – you need to eat more. I see a lot of athletes who eat well and very healthy meals who very quickly get into this state and do not understand it – the problem is the meal size/ calorie load was just not enough for the demands being put on your body. Studies have shown that ab libitum feeding post intense exercise is not enough for replacing calories expended.
If you often find yourself in this state or maybe ask those close to you if your becoming like this then its time to make a big effort to up your calorie load and see your mood come back on track.
Lack of progress
If all the hard training your doing is not translating to improved fitness and speed then once again limiting calories could be your issue. We need to train hard to improve but if your not fuelling
the hard work your body will not be able to adapt, imagine building a wall of bricks without using cement – the wall will always have a limitation and keep falling down as there is nothing to hold the bricks together. If you want your body to adapt and improve you need to be providing not only the training stimulus but also the fuel for growth.
ADDING VOLUME THROUGH SOCIAL TRAINING
Another issue athletes often fall guilty of is too much social training once the weather turns, not that training with others is a problem in itself the issue is more jumping into more training just because friends are heading out and thinking another couple of hours on the bike will make no difference as its easy! While this may seem like no issue the problem is more that the additional hours added to your training load can just be too much and too much training stimulus can also stop adaptions occurring. So if your getting lots of invitations to head out with others make sure that the sessions closely match your plan and your not adding too much volume to your overall plan.
Not only the added volume of social training needs to be considered but also the competitive side of the sessions, all too often that easy ride with friends turns into a race especially as everyone is desperate to prove their fitness after all the hard indoor sessions that have been done during the winter. Resist the urge to join in and be confident in the work you have done and remember the time to show your fitness is race day!
If you look back at last years you will generally find the friend who was sitting at the back of your group of seemed to be suffering during training sessions is the one who is up front on race day not the guy who is always charging away at the front of training sessions!
The arrival of spring makes us feel invincible with the added energy it seems to bring, the increase in vitamin D levels through expose to the sun is a boosting hormone and we just feel so much more alive than we did during the winter time.
This not only brings possible issues with everything above but this feeling of invincibility tends to lead us to forget the importance of recovery methods in our training program. On those cold dark winter nights it is easy to find a little time in the evening to jump on the foam roller or do any rehab strength exercises we may need to keep on top of to prevent injures but once spring rolls around we all too easily put these things away and do not think about them again until injuries hit.
Spring time with the change in training plan and intensity mentioned above is a time when we need to be even more diligent with out recovery, if your training harder the muscles are under more stress and you need to work harder to look after them in order to get the most out of yourself as an athlete.
This spring make sure you consider all we have talked about and implement them into your training plan accordingly and you will reap the rewards with improved fitness and accelerated adaptions to your training.
Eat well, eat more, recover hard and you will have the best summer race season ever.
Enjoy your training
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