|Photo courtesy of Trek Bicycle Corporation|
I have been inspired by many of my friends who have recently posted photos on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social apparatuses, of the fun times in warmer places on business trips and vacations. This inspiration has been enough to allow me to put warm clothes on and ride my bicycle in the snow and imagine that I am enjoying a slightly warmer summer day. All this as a preamble to exhort each one of us that this is ultimately the most crucial of training times in the year. Sooner than you can say 'Jim-Dandy' the Spring will come through like the 'roaring lion' and Summer will be in our midst.
My exhortation is threefold...get some time in the saddle, get those chicken legs moving, and spend at least one of your training days each week, at the pool.
I have been teaching cycling endurance classes 4 days a week, so I know that my derriere is somewhat acclimated to the saddle, but many folks don't ride on their bicycle until the snow melts. Whether you have been riding an exercise bicycle at the club or maybe you haven't been cycling at all, I encourage you to get the bicycle on the trainer and clock some hours now, before it's too late. Trainer riding can be one of the best forms of early season training you can do. The trainer allows you to get used to your bicycle again, and also allows you to make sure that your fit on the bicycle is still keeping you comfy for the miles you will endure when you get outside. Several of the athletes I instruct have chosen to try out a new saddle during their indoor cycling training. If your local bicycle shop has a comfort guarantee with their saddles, why not use this time to try something new. Saddles can be as pricey as $300 or more, but the expensive ones are not always best. Talk with a fit specialist about the position you ride in and how long you will be in the saddle for. These and other questions can help a fit specialist make a proper recommendation to keep you safe.
In a recent education seminar I attended, Coach Bobby McGee, one of the preeminent physiologist and coaches for the US Olympic Triathlon Team, talked about the importance of consistency with running training. He surmises that for improvements that can be made in a year of concentrated effort for cycling or swimming, it will take 4 years of similar concentrated training to acquire the same physiological benefits in running. A misnomer that many athletes and coaches believe is that running is often the discipline that injures and athlete most...this is not the case. Top physiologists and sports medicine practitioners believe it isn't so much running that causes problems, it is lack of consistency in running training coupled by poor technique in the other two disciplines. Distilled, running simply identifies an athletes existing physiological weaknesses more acutely. So, while you plan to get more consistency in your running training, also make sure that you have a good strength and conditioning routine that addresses the major muscle groups that facilitate most directly with the ranges of motion you plan to utilize in your exercise. A personal trainer, or exercise physiologist can give recommendations of exercises that will benefit you in this regard. You can often times consult a physical therapist or mulitsport coach who has exercise physiology in their academic background.
Lastly, I can't say it enough...swimming is almost 100% technique. Some of the fittest athletes suffer miserably in the water due to lack of proper technique and body movement in the swim. I am currently working with an athlete who experienced a HUGE breakthrough last summer in his swimming. He may attribute his immense improvement to my coaching, but I would say that most of it was simply helping him become more aware of what he was already doing and not doing. We worked together in the pool about every other week for several months from February to May, but what helped him most was the video analysis I provided him with. Almost every session I would video him swimming, and then provide him with a detailed analysis of what he was doing in certain frame of the video clip...each identification of something done right or wrong was paired with a technique drill to either correct a poor movement pattern, or to reinforce a positive technique pattern. These clips were the source of his technique library that he could go back to time and time again and become more self-aware of how he was swimming and how certain elements of his technique effected the overall stroke. Much of the time coaching doesn't have to be rocket science, it's simply someone coming alongside to identify what's going on and recommend ways to change things.
The weather guy might call the "Polar Vortex" the conundrum that's afflicting us right now, but don't let it trounce your enthusiasm for all that's still possible for your 2014 racing season. I am stoked about the progress I am seeing in my athletes and in my own training, and even if your New Year resolutions haven't been all that you'd hoped thus far no better time to hit the restart button than now!
Train Smart, Keep Balanced,
Tri Coach K