Tag: peaking

Plan your training with the pandemic to look long-term

A friend of mine was logging a lot of long indoor trainer sessions this winter to prepare for the Dirty Kanza scheduled for May. 

But most of the spring and summer races have been cancelled or postponed. The fall events are not looking good either.

Moreover, many WAC clients and members were also planning for the Milwaukee Marathon in April, and that has also been cancelled, although organizers have created a Virtual Run

So what do you do when your spring – or maybe summer – event has been cancelled or postponed? 

This means you need to change your training and plan your training with the pandemic.

If you've been training for events that are now cancelled or postponed, look long-term. Plan your training with the pandemic with lots of endurance.
Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

Stay focused and calm

There is nothing you can do about your events getting cancelled or postponed. Zero.

Getting frustrated and/or angry is understandable, but ultimately, you’re going to have to accept these strange and challenging times.

Everyone is going through the same thing. No one is getting some kind of unfair advantage. Unless you live in a severely restricted area, like parts of Europe, you’re still probably able to get out for rides or runs.

Was that all that training wasted? 

First of all, no training is ever “wasted.” Any training stress you put on your body, helps muscles strengthen and adapt. Unless, of course, you do too much. More on that later. 

Second, you’ve been building aerobic fitness through your training. All of your aerobic training helps your cells add mitochondria, and that creates more potential energy.

Third, you’ve gained some valuable experience. You’ve learned something about what works for training, nutrition, and rest. 

Now what? Plan your training with COVID

As a personal trainer for the Wisconsin Athletic Club, and since the clubs are now all closed, I have a lot of time on my hands! I’ve been doing a boat load of research and reading.

But I could spend a lot of time on the bike or on trails training. 

But I know too much training right now would actually set me back. Plus too much training can weaken my immune system, making me more susceptible to COVID-19.

So what should we do if we were training for an event that has been cancelled or postponed? How to plan training with COVID-19?

Here are some options:

1. How to plan training with the pandemic: Smash Some Segments

If you’ve been peaking toward some spring races, you’ll have some good form. Spend the next week or two setting some personal records!

Use some of the form you’ve gained and get on Zwift or outside on Strava to smash some KOMs or segments. Treat the segments as a race and see what you can do. 

2. How to plan training with the pandemic: Take an “Injury” Break 

When you’re hurt or sick, you need to take time off. Most of us know that if we have a forced break, we come back stronger!

You can take some time to just rest, read books, and watch Netflix. Maybe we actually talk with our families and spend some good time with them so that when we are able to return to racing, they won’t mind as much.

3. How to plan training with the pandemic: Return to Base

Use the opportunity to get more fun cycling or run time in. Structure your training loosely, doing one or two long, slow efforts a week, and one or two moderate, longer interval days. 

And by loosely, I mean have a “sort of” plan. When you go out for the long runs or rides, don’t focus at all on the numbers. Just go. Have fun. Take a break from serious training and ride or run by feel.

For your long days, just keep it slow and easy. Go find some trails in the woods. Run through neighborhoods you haven’t seen before. Explore different parts of the county on your bike.

And the intervals should likewise be moderate, around 85 to 90 percent of your threshold HR or power. (In the talk test, you would be able to hold a minimal conversation with few words.) Those intervals should probably be a little longer, depending on your sport and goals.

If you've been training for events that are now cancelled or postponed, look long-term. Plan your training with the pandemic with lots of endurance.

Do some body weight strength training. Do unilateral work, do posterior chain work (hamstrings, glutes, back), move laterally, do some yoga to build your movement strength.

Decide what’s best for you. If you have another event planned for late summer or fall, you can start preparing for it now.

If it’s far enough in advance, and you have a little energy, go seek some segments. If you’re a bit tired from everything – including anxiety about COVID-19 – take some time for yourself and rest.

And if you’re ready to start training again, get after it. Plan your work, and work your plan. Let me know if you need help.

How to plan training with the pandemic: Caveats/ Extras

1. Don’t use your time to really ramp up the training. I’m obviously tempted to do a few month long training camp with a lot of long miles and long runs. But don’t.

As your body wears down, so too does your body’s immune system, making you more susceptible to illness, including COVID-19.

Plus, you might end up overtraining and setting you back before any racing this summer or fall.

So keep your training “normal.” Sure, take advantage of the time and do some longer rides or runs. But just keep it simple!

2. Keep calm about race dates. No one knows how long this is going to take. Race promoters are losing money since the permits, numbers, etc., are all pre-paid. So stay calm, be courteous, and give race organizers a lot of slack. 

3. Use some of the time to build some strength and mobility. Get outside and use the playgrounds around you for strength work, particularly single leg forward and side work. Or stay inside and do pushups, core work, and single leg lower body work!

4. This can be a time to ride or run solo or only with your partner/ family. Group rides should be off-limits for a while with social distancing.

Go explore new places and have new adventures. Use this time as a positive as best you can. 

Need to Talk Through Your Plans?

What questions do you have?

We can do a Skype, Zoom, or Facetime meeting, talk over the phone, or chat anytime. Send an email to set up a time: pwarloski at gmail dot com or 262. 705.4892.

We can do a consult or we can start working out a plan together that meets your needs.

At Simple Endurance Coaching, we keep your training simple, regardless of the circumstances.

Thanks for reading!

Recovering from a broken radius/ ulna and two surgeries this summer has been a challenge for my training, but today’s workout gives me some hope of peaking for the rest of cyclocross season.

Cyclocross is always my main focus during the year, although next year I plan to branch out into some gravel racing and some trail running.

And I had planned peaking in November for the Wisconsin State Championships and try to hang onto some form for USA Cycling Regionals in December.

But this year, due to injury, I’m going to have to accept that peaking will be at a much lower level.

And I’m okay with that.

I miss the racing!

Periodization Prepares Endurance Athletes for Peaking

Periodization in endurance sport training is like a triangle with the long base on the bottom. You build a big base with long endurance rides and some long intervals and a lot of strength training. Then as the season progresses, you do less volume and more intense, shorter intervals.

And when you’re close to your peak event, your volume drops way down and the intensity of very short intervals increases.

So my spring and early summer had a lot of long slow endurance rides with quite a few days of 2×20 or 3×20-minute intervals on the bike at a hard pace. Right before we left for vacation to Boston, I put in 10 days of really hard training with long days and shorter, more intense intervals. I planned a long recovery block with lots of easy walking, eating good food, and drinking good whiskey.

The Best Plans Can Get Derailed. Then What?

I snapped the radius and ulna of my right arm at the beach in Cape Cod while trying to use a skim board.

The next day, I had emergency surgery to release a carpal tunnel block and pin together the radius.

This is my arm after surgery #1. The plate and screws put my radius together, but you can still see pieces of the radius sticking out like a snapped chicken thigh bone.

Yet when I returned to Milwaukee to see my orthopedic surgeon, who has already repaired both shoulders from previous bike crashes, he didn’t like how the arm looked. So he did surgery #2 to fix the problems.

I wasn’t able to ride or do any strength work for nearly three weeks.

That’s a lot of fitness to lose. I tried riding on a trainer in the garage, but the splint prior to surgery #2 was just too unwieldy, even with a pillow on the handlebars.

After I got the cast, and my daughter bedazzled and painted it,

I did start to do very short and easy rides first on the trainer, and then outside. I did some Cycle classes at the Wisconsin Athletic Club in Greenfield where I work as a trainer.

These were pretty effective, and I felt like I was regaining some fitness.

A bedazzled cast was by far the best part of having a cast! Thanks to my daughter Sarah for her art work. It kept me motivated while building up to peaking for cyclocross

When Fitness Falls, the Triangle Becomes “Stout” Isosceles

The point to all of this is that I started off with a strong base and a strong middle in my periodization triangle.

That would mean the point of the triangle is pretty high (my math teacher wife tells me this is like a “tall” isosceles triangle.

And obviously the taller the peak, the stronger I’d be on the bike.

Now, with the big reduction in fitness, my triangle is a little more, well, “stout” with a long base and short sides.

Once a week, I’ve been doing longer over/under intervals by going hard up hills in a local loop, and keeping up the pressure on the downhills and flats.

And once a week, I’ve been doing 60-second hill climb intervals. I’m also getting in at least one endurance ride and one strength session.

Honestly, even that little amount of work wipes me out. My body is clearly still recovering.

The cast is gone now, and I wear a splint with velcro fasteners that I can take off easily. I’m doing a lot of therapy at home, and I can do more strength training at the gym – primarily split squats, single-leg leg presses, and some plyometric jumps.

Finally, a Bit of a Breakthrough

I do the hill repeats on a trail up the Rock Sports Complex hill. It’s a paved trail that is a 6 to 8 percent grade. It’s a good place to return to each week to see if there’s progress.

Tonight, there was some progress.

I got the best one-minute power numbers in several years, and I was able to do more consistently strong efforts up the hill.

I’m beat now, and the arm hurts a bit, but it feels like there is some hope of peaking for the end of the season.

We have a group of new cyclocross racers at the WAC in a class I teach, and our first race – and my first race back – will be in Dousman at the Tough Udder Oct. 20.

My bike handling skills will be terrible since I still can’t lift a bike over the barriers.

But we’re going to have fun.

I’ve taken cyclocross way too seriously for too long, trying to reach a high level.

This year, it’s a chance to come back with better breathing after a year of working with a good asthma doctor.

I’m not going to waste any of that time ruing my “misfortune” this summer.

I’m just going to go out, holler, and ride as fast as I can. Even with a stout isosceles of a peak!