Performance Mangement Chart for a 1 year build to Ironman Arizona occuring 5 days out from the end of the “blue line”. ~10 % reduction from the peak with a positive stress balance is an “idealized” shape of the curve for physical preparedness and an ideal taper.
Ironman Arizona is a late season race. By the time athletes have arrived in Arizona the months upon months of training have often taken an emotional toll, even if the physical preparation is perfect.
Finding that blend of building fitness, maintaining motivation, postitive mindset and visualization, just enough rest without getting stale…that’s the art of tapering.
The performance management chart is one way of viewing the physical stresses of training and looking at how well an athlete is recovering.
By correlating dips in the chronic training load (the “little blue line”) with the bounce in the balance of acute & chronic stress (the yellow zone or the “training stress balance” or TSB), we can prepare an athlete for an idealized race.
There is more to it for sure, but seeing these shapes emerging the week before Ironman Arizona is reassuring for me as a coach as well as for my athlete. No wondering how well the training prepared him. he is well prepared.
From here to Sunday, it’s all about positive visualization, staying limber, managing emotions and energy, and staying organized and out of the fray of race week.
What’s your interpretation of the “little blue line”?
Today I was chatting with one of my athletes getting his post-race recap of the Rev 3 Cedar Point Half distance triathlon. He was thrilled with his performance, his ability to overcome many hardships and mishaps during the race (who hasn’t taken a wrong turn in the heat of a race? ) and was most pleased at how his training consistency has led to a 45 minute improvement in his Half distance since last year.
Yet his training volume is still less than that of his training partner (who remains uncoached). His partner and he used to ride at the same pace and now my athlete (I’ll refer to him as Paul) is so much faster than his friend, that often he “pulls him along” on training rides. His friend (I’ll call him Peter) has been a bit baffled by Paul’s reduced training volume until the results of yesterday’s race in which Paul took 2nd place in his age group.
Why bring this up? It’s not for me to sit here and write that less training time is better for you. It may be , but without knowing what you are currently doing, your recent improvements (or declines or plateaus) and what your goals are, you could need more training, less training or just different training.
Contrast this with another athlete of mine who did the exact same race who is doing not quite twice as much training volume as Paul.
Let’s put some numbers and figures to all of this…
His 4 key Endurance races this year are
- Pittsburgh Marathon 5/4/2014 – DONE
- Eagleman 6/8/2014 – DONE
- Rev 3 Cedar Point Half 9/8/14 – DONE
- IM Arizona 11/16/14 – 8 Weeks to go
That’s a long season and a lot of long racing. He’s got a family and it’s vital that he remain in good health and balanced thorughotu the year. That means that when we can afford to trainig wise, we back way off, allow him to recovery, let fatigue go away and let him spend time with family & work related priorities. Nearing these final 2 races (Rev 3 Cedar Point and IM Arizona) it is becoming more important to get in adequate volume for muscle endurance, while maximizing his speed potential for those distances.
The question is how much is enough? Where’s the threshold of too much training?
There are two (ok, maybe 3) key elements to look at and still keep the formula simple.
- What’s his prior training volume/ training stress been like?
- How much time can he currently commit to training
- How is he feeling physically, emotionally & in relation to his other commitments?
I’ll make this a 2 part writeup and continue the discussion in Part 2. There is a lot ot consider and digest here, and it’s important as a coach and an athlete to keep a holistic approach to training volume and not simply fill all available time with training.
Let me know in the comments what questions have come up so far in reading part 1.