During a conversation I was having with two elite athletes before going to their training, we chatted while having a coffee as one of them looked through the pages of a newspaper that wrote about several endurance races. Once read that news, he invited us to his reflection asking us: “But, why do so many people compete every weekend in so many endurance competitions around the world? We as professional athletes earn our living with it, but why do they do it?” At that moment an interesting conversation was generated that revolved around this idea: we train and compete because we were born to train and compete.
Indeed, the human being since has been evolving from that species that lived in the trees as some primates do today, has managed to develop the intelligence and with it the way of life thanks to the fact that has always been an “active being”. Many of the advances we have experienced have been closely linked to our continuous movement to hunt for food, to move to places more conducive to being inhabited and also and very important, in search of satisfying a very human characteristic: curiosity.
Nowadays, competitions of two, three or more consecutive days are observed as extraordinary, such as the Spartathlon, the Sables Marathon, the Titan Desert or the Tour de France. And in fact they are, because they suppose that an athlete reaches to the maximum, both physically and mentally, knowing him or herself to the limit, thus breaking down the barriers of a society that is marked by the words “easy”, “immediate” and “free”, just the opposite of what anyone who wears a race number and competes in one of those events mentioned or in others raced in a single day that requires a great demand: the IRONMAN or any other shorter triathlon, cycling events, marathons or trails/ultratrails.
The origins of our abilities as distance runners and of that genetic predisposition to activity come from the moment where we needed to run to eat. At that time most of the animals that could suppose food for the whole tribe were faster than us, so two qualities were needed: intelligence and… endurance. Based on a well-planned persecution that could last several days, our ancestors managed to hunt enduring more than their prey could, as they were faster but less prepared to withstand an effort as long as needed during those first competitions: hunters against preys.
It is clear that today more variables have been added to this evolutionary base since in training and competing the social part with which to belong and be accepted in a group is key for many people. Others are attracted to fashion and the consumption of sporting gear that many companies launch to the market on a frequent basis. In addition, surely everyone knows of the multiple health benefits of habits associated with sports and more and more people come to see even a true lifestyle around training and competing. And as many researches tell us, one of the essential bases of happiness lies in giving meaning to what is done each day.
Movement is natural to human being: evolving has drove us to have 656 muscles, 206 bones and 268 joints that allow us to move so being immobile is something that our body doesn’t understand. In other words, sedentary lifestyle goes against the nature of the human body and for that reason is the triggering factor of many health problems. Many years ago we had to hunt but now we have the aliments served as soon as we open the fridge or the pantry so the need for that movement to get foods disappeared and we have to balance that through, for example, physical activity.
Training is intimately associated with oxygen, the main character of life. Among other functions enables each muscle fiber to fulfill its great purpose: to contract and relax to link movements, to conquer more meters, more kilometers, more landscapes. As a result, all that activity leads to the pleasant sensations around adding one more day of training.
When you also reach the culminating moment, the competition, the metabolic processes leaded by the adrenaline accelerate even more the feeling of pleasure, achievement, challenge, something that you will want to repeat in the future by leaving a positive memory imprint.
By evolution, by health, by exiting the circle of comfort, by fashion, by socialization, by happiness, by conquest or by physiology, it is clear that we are prepared to train and compete, that at our roots we are determined for this and that by uniting the characteristics of the present moment, the resulting combination are millions of athletes challenging themselves to enjoy the next session and the next race number.
La entrada WHY DO YOU TRAIN? WHY ARE YOU COMPETING? se publicó primero en JO:SE:RRA.]]>
The professionalization of sports has led to the fact that currently elite athletes can compete in their sports almost during the twelve months of the year, ensuring that the stimuli they face are completely specific and at the same time that the brands that sponsor them can appear more frequently in the media.
Thus, not long ago the season of a cyclist or triathlete was very well differentiated between winter and summer. Cold months in which to rest and train in other sports than specific ones (cross-country skiing or mountain biking, for example) as well as focus on improving strength in the gym and warm months where you can go outside to prepare in a specific way the competitions.
Now, however, the professional athletes extend their season of specific training and competitions to continue representing their sponsors something that sometimes seems to go against maximum performance at key moments of the season. The World Series in Triathlon (ITU), the IRONMAN races dispersed during all the months of the year and the professional cycling calendar that goes from Australia in January to the World Cup in September/October are some examples.
But for the amateur athlete the calendar is different and the cold months are still moments of the season to prepare the specific and competitive months in which the sun heats up. And thanks to the evolution of the training plans and the ways to develop them independently of the climatic conditions, the amateur can make a big profit thanks to which shine in summer.
The days with fewer hours of sunlight and fewer moments in which to have adequate temperatures to train are the determining factors that mark the winter training. These are some of the ways in which you can optimize every minute of training regardless of the outside conditions.
One of the last proposals to plan the training is the one that propounds to start with high intensity loads to evolve towards loads of intensity similar to the race.
Given that high intensity training can be reduced in duration, with sessions between 60′-90′ you can get the highest quality loads that complies with this type of planning, developing longer sessions and similar to the race during the second part of the season (warm months).
Another new planning methodology is the proposal to train at high intensities (above the anerobic threshold, FTP or CP) combining them with low intensities (at and below the aerobic threshold). That fits with the ideal way to invest the cold months with short sessions both for one and the other extreme, both in high and low training zones.
Training the technique in any endurance sport is essential so that the efficiency of the athlete increases in each of his/her movements and, in the end, his/her performance is increased too.
The technique requires coordination of movements and to improve this it is essential that the muscle is educated with actions at high speed and with high precision. This piece of the winter training puzzle fits perfectly with the previous two (plans where the intensity is high) and can and should be developed with short workouts.
The technological evolution has led to the market the indoor trainers to pedal under ideal conditions simulating the effort outside, offering us a huge variety of brands and models.
On a trainer for the bike the possibility of reproducing with total accuracy each of the sets and repetitions, the possibility of keeping the watts and the heart rate completely controlled and the reliability of a 60′-90′ high quality session, are variables that are taken to the highest level with the great benefit that this implies for performance.
In addition, training the technique of pedaling on an indoor trainer is completely viable and is facilitated by not having the need to maintain balance or pay attention to traffic or road conditions.
To this day, a trainer is an indispensable tool during the cold months and it guarantees that the specific and competitive months will be reached having “done the homework”.
With the same virtues as the trainer for the bike, the treadmill guarantees to make the most of each step at the desired intensity. And it is that, in the treadmill “you can not escape”, the tape does not forgive, it does not stop.
Thanks to the fact that each contact with that surface can be repeated exactly once and again, the improvement of the technique (once this has been studied through an appropriate test) is one of the variables that are most assured.
In addition, including short and high-intensity reps, 45′-60′ workouts are loads of the highest quality (which again fits with the planning models explained before).
The winter months, being away from the moments of the year in which the athletes face specific and competitive loads, are ideal to focus on the improvement of strength (especially at the level of the structure: tendons, joints, ligaments, bones and muscles).
This is because in this way, the requirement of specific training is not impaired by the requirement of strength sessions.
The benefits gained from the strength training in winter are used when the sessions that prepare the athlete for the competition arrive.
It has been shown again and again that the more sport stimuli, the richer the response of athletes and therefore, the more performance they develop. Therefore, taking advantage of the winter months to practice cross-country skiing, to spend more time on the mountain bike, to make a long walk in the mountains or to put some snowshoes on the snow, will always be positive stimuli that will enrich the specific sport that you want to face in the warm months.
In addition, that change refreshes the mind, something that will make the new connection with the specific sport even more powerful.
In short, the cold months are an extraordinary time to invest in training loads with which to reach the warm times with the best possible preparation to face the key training that leads to competition.
La entrada HOW TO TRAIN IN WINTER TO RACE IN SUMMER se publicó primero en JO:SE:RRA.]]>
Continuing with the previous article in which the second part of the creation of a plan were exposed, the ones that complete the circle of questions with which to take the first step to organize the season of an athlete are detailed.
7. The microcycles.
When I plan every day athletes of all levels always convey them an idea: good planning is the planning that is always being readjusted. With this I explain that, although the phases that have to be achieved during the season have to be foreseen, we also must know how to adapt them to the reality that we are encountering since the response of an athlete to the stimuli can be so different from that we plan in advance. Therefore, we must be flexible and know how to redirect the process individually and constantly.
The part of the planning that allows us these adjustments are the microcycles, phases between 4 and 14 days that have a specific goal within the mesocycle in which they are housed.
They plan the relationship of loads for several days and alternate very demanding days with others with recovery loads that allow the optimal relationship between sessions that develop the athlete and workouts that allow him/her to absorb the training to increase his/her performance
8. The transverse axis: the strength.
Any planning plan must have a backbone that extends from the beginning to the end of the season, an axis thanks to which the other elements are supported and which makes possible, on the one hand, to improve performance, on the other hand to achieve a well balanced athlete and finally a reduction in the probability of suffering overloads, discomfort and/or injuries.
That axis is indispensable in any sport and for any level of performance, from the professional to the amateur: this axis is the strength training.
It is true that new trends to develop it have been an enrichment when preparing any athlete: the TRX, Pilates, functional training, etc. They are great contributions offering high quality training but does not eliminate the traditional systems through which strength has been trained and which have given such good results for years. Therefore, the new trends have to be in balance with the “conventional” gym since only this way all the necessary stimuli are reached to develop to the maximum the qualities of an athlete.
9. Nutritional plan.
When I frequently do presentations, I ask the audience a question: if an athlete trains different types of loads and phases during the season, should he/she always eat the same? The answer is obvious: if the phases of the training seek different adaptations during the planning, the nutrients that have to be ingested must also be different throughout the season and, therefore, should be planned based on it.
For example, in phases in which the highest intensities to reach are the main goal, nutrition must give different responses to phases in which it is desired to achieve optimal adaptations during several hours at low intensities.
To be able to individualize it is key to perform a stress test to analyze the metabolism of the athlete at different intensities and develop the nutritional strategy in relation to it. In conclusion, another transversal axis that must be linked to strength training must be the nutrition plan, both of them developed in relation to the training and competition phases.
10. Creativity: the magic of the coach.
It is true that individualized training of an athlete is a process that must be based on scientific evidence on which to support his/her plan. Also, one of the best professor I had at the university said: “training is a balance between science and art”. With that sentence that expert teached the idea that, although as coaches we must always support science, we must leave at the same time a part to our creativity, to that part that has to do with knowing how to adapt the training to each athlete, to his/her day to day, to his/her personality, to characteristics or conditioning that are specific to that individual, to details with which retouch and give a personality to his/her training plan that allow us to really prepare an athlete in a completely individual way.
Those essential details are what each coach contributes based on his/her personality, based on his/her academic background and athletic experience and based on his/her way of seeing performance and even life.
That final “touch” that all planning has to contain is what constitutes the mark, the signature of a good coach when really plans in an exclusive and unique way to each one of his/her athletes, feeling as their own the challenges that they set.
There is the magic of planning: in the creative part of that process.
In short, to properly plan a season and achieve the goals that the athlete sets, the pieces of the puzzle must be well known and placed according to each person, that is, individually.
La entrada HOW TO PLAN THE NEW SEASON (PART 3) se publicó primero en JO:SE:RRA.]]>
Continuing with the previous article in which the first three parts of the creation of a plan were exposed, the ones that complete the circle of questions with which to take the first step to organize the season of an athlete are detailed.
4. Strengths and limiters.
Thanks to softwares such as TrainingPeaks, a detailed analysis of each athletes’ story is possible by studying the infinity of the graphs and data that represent them numerically.
This information allows us to know precisely what strengths and limiters the athlete needs to focus on, so this is the part of the planning process in which we begin to have a real perspective of the distance between the current level and the level to be achieved to get the goals set.Within this set of data, two that are of special interest and that the coach has to assess in a major way are:
The current reserve of adaptation, that is, the margin of improvement of that athlete during the season that is now being planned.
The total reserve of adaptation, that is, the margin of improvement that this athlete can have throughout his/her career, whether professional or amateur.
5. The macrocycle.
Knowing the characteristics of the athlete, the characteristics of the competition, the months till the event and the margin to improve in the athlete to reach the level of performance he/she needs to achieve the goal you can choose between one of the multiple training plan models or, in case the coach has enough level, knowledge and experience, a fully customized training plan can be created. This last option is the best in case the standard training plans do not adjust 100% to the needs of the athlete
Usually, in less experienced people, the training loads are mainly focused on a progressive increase of the volume (duration and frequency) since this will ensure a wider base to later move to a phase where higher intensities are the main goal.
In experienced athletes the plans must be focused on the quality of their training, where the focus has to be placed on the intensity of the loads and the specificity of them.
In elite athletes both the volume of training and the intensity are variables that have to be taken to maximum levels to achieve the performance required to get the highest fitness level.
6. The mesocycles.The variety of the loads and the progressive increase of them are two of the issues that define the type of mesocycles, where each one of those blocks must have several objectives to reach so that, once the competition has arrived, the process has been the ideal to face it.
Usually, in most plans, two large parts are established throughout the season (which encompass several mesocycles in each of them).On the one hand, those initial blocks (also called non-specific, or base mesocycles) that have as their primary objective that the athlete prepare the body for the later months of specific training (more demanding and similar to the competition). That is, first “train to train” and then “train to compete”.A different plan is needed when the races are spread during several months and they are separated just a few days or weeks between each other. For instance, the events in olympic and sprint distance triathlons and road bike, mountain bike and cyclocross one-day races, which have a season with multiple competitions and where points have to be earned to achieve the best final position.In this case, the way to plan the season requires three variants: 1- the balance between unspecific and specific loads has to be achieved several times in order to ensure several times a peak performance; 2- the main competitions themselves are perfect moments to prepare the following races; 3- the season must be analyzed tactically to obtain the maximum score in the moments in which the athlete has the greatest advantage due to the conditions of the event, while balancing those critical moments with others in which the rivals may have favorable conditions.
Finally, in the third part of this article, in the next installment, we will analyze the way in which the strength, nutrition and style of the coach contribute to create the best planning of the season.
La entrada HOW TO PLAN THE NEW SEASON (PART 2) se publicó primero en JO:SE:RRA.]]>
Many times I share conversations with athletes from all over the world before a race in which we meet or re-encounter each other. It is one of the greatest riches that brings a trip to other countries, societies, cultures and landscapes: increase the number of people with whom you contact throughout life. A treasure that makes it possible to open up the points of view and perspectives with which to see the day to day and that allows to fully understand and respect those people who think or are different from oneself.
Making a review of all those conversations that I like to note, I observe the coincidence with one of the senteces that Joe Friel (one of the most prestigious coaches at international level) pronounced in one of his innumerable articles: “those athletes who have a planning and they trust it, even if it is a simple one, obtain better results than those who do not follow any planning, although the latter train more “.
The order in the training process is essential when it comes to achieving the objectives that the athlete marks. Nobody can imagine today a professional of any sport without a coach who plans his/her season or without knowledge of performance that place him/her at the level of a good coach.
To start each season with the necessary order, you must follow certain steps that we’ll develop in two articles. Here is the first part of the variables to take into account.
In the second part of this post we will analyze the rest of the keys that must be taken into account when planning a season correctly.
La entrada HOW TO PLAN THE NEW SEASON se publicó primero en JO:SE:RRA.]]>
This coming October IRONMAN Hawaii celebrates its fortieth anniversary. Forty years since the Ironman was born in the format in which it is known today. Held for the first time a competition that has become a world reference both for what has been an evolution for modern sport and for the wonderful stories of human achievement that year after year are lived in Kona when the limits of thousands of people are broken to demonstrate the power of the word “will”.
Forty years are already enough to highlight some names that have made IRONMAN the monument that it is today. And among those people, the one that is the central axis of this text: Ken Glah.
When you meet Ken, you perceive from the first moment he is passionate about what he does, his life is his sport. He continues to take care of his body, his diet and his training. His eyes keep shining when he talks about IRONMAN, he maintains the passion to plan his way to re-qualify for Kona and he can remember every detail of those who have lived in his thousands of training days and races around the world. When you meet Ken, you realize he is an open book that talks about triathlon from its beginnings to the present moment.
The biggest demonstration that he loves his sport is that this October he will be on the starting line of the IRONMAN Hawaii for the thirty-fifth time. The number of participations that this entails is far from what any other triathlete has ever achieved. In addition to that Ken has achieved it in a row, not missing a single IRONMAN Hawaii since 1984! That gives a wingspan to this milestone that can hardly be matched someday.
I remember this past March in the days before IRONMAN New Zealand. Ken organized a training camp before that race so that everyone who travels with his company (Endurance Sports Travel) can train with him and prepare for this competition in an ideal way. It was very nice to see how a triathlete who has been professional and who won six times among the IRONMAN Brazil (1998, 1999 and 2000), Canada (1993) and New Zealand (1992 and 1993), who was ten times top-ten in Kona (with his best finish in third in 1988), is able to show the niceness and attention that Ken treasures.
In those virtues lies a great part of the success of the company that he created in 2002 through which he organizes the trip of any athlete who wants to experience the IRONMAN. Everything is prepared so that triathletes and their family and/or friends can be sure their trip to the place of the event, their lodging, their nutrition and all the added logistics (like for example the bike mechanics assistance) are taken care of in every little detail.
Thanks to his experience competing all over the world, always having his mother as his first and best fan, in every of the places where Endurance Sports Travel organizes trips are also proposed training session on the same swimming, cycling and running circuits where the race will take place. This way every athlete knows what he/she has to face, in addition to have the chance to the valuable advices that Ken constantly gives so that the competition is a success for every person who races it.
After having raced for the first time in the triathlon in 1982 (in Rhode Island), after having participated in more than 80 IRONMAN all over the world, having won national and international competitions in other distances of the triathlon and having been included in the Hall of Fame of the USA Triathlon, Ken continues to look forward to his next competition as if it were the first and, essential, to facilitate all those traveling with his company (EST) they also achieve the finish line.
And so I saw him, completely excited and occupied in helping and encouraging those of us who traveled with him to New Zealand. After finishing his IRONMAN and knowing that he had qualified for 35 consecutive time for Kona, he got a shower, began to recover his body eating something and placed himself back on the marathon circuit to continue encouraging all those who were still competing. He checked and re-checked a thousand times the app of his mobile phone to know where each of the people who traveled with him were, studying our times and figuring if those who would arrive later would finish in less than 17 hours.
After that trip and the previous ones that we have done together, the option to start sharing projects as training camps for triathletes and cyclists was born, unique experiences in privileged places where every detail will be taken care of with the highest quality. This is the reason why these days Ken will be in Huesca, from where we will begin to plan those proposals that will be developed during 2019.
When a person maintains his passion for what he does for so many years and is also capable of transmitting it, he is a person who shines and who makes everyone around him reach their best version. Ken is that person and knowing him is one of the great privileges that can be had when training and competing in IRONMAN.
La entrada KEN GLAH: IRONMAN’S ESSENCE se publicó primero en JO:SE:RRA.]]>
La entrada THE BALANCE BETWEEN QUALITY AND THE AMOUNT OF TRAINING se publicó primero en JO:SE:RRA.]]>
Scientific evidence shows that the majority of elite athletes reach their highest level when the combination of quantity and quality is in a ratio of 80-20.
Surely you’ve been there. Surely for a few hours you have crossed the same way that you will now be able to read. Surely the thoughts that are linked during the last kilometers of an endurance race have passed through your head: in the IRONMAN, in the marathon, in a cycling competition or in a open water swim of thousands of meters the scenario is similar.
The toughest place, which requires more physical and mental before crossing the finish line, is in the last quarter of any of those events. This is because the storage of glycogen (the highest quality energy) are low in muscle fibers. The joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments begin to show signs of wear to which they have been subjected movement after movement. The water that is distributed throughout the body has decreased during the previous hours although the hydration protocol has been followed precisely. Due to all this, they are instants in which fatigue reaches maximum levels. You are close to the “red line”.
It is time to make the most of a key part of the training plan: the quality of your sessions. The difference between finishing the competition at the desired pace or being forced to reduce speed drastically is in the 20% that must have all preparation for endurance races, according to various research developed studing elite athletes. This percentage belongs to the paces/HR/power at or above the anaerobic threshold (including lactic and alactic), stimuli that in most cases are included in the training weeks based on sets, repetitions and/or intervals.
Of the two main types of muscle fibers, the ST (slow fibers) and the FT (fast fibers), during an endurance race the first ones are the main protagonists, since by their physiological characteristics they adapt to perfection to maintain efforts of long duration and low or medium intensities. These are fibers capable of optimally utilizing oxygen as well as having greater reserves of fat and glycogen than FT, which allows them to produce energy over a long period of time.
Due to the high energy and structural demands of linked hours/distances, ST fibers can reach their limit if they have not been stimulated through sessions in which the intensity of the training is greater than the specific of the race (which usually and most of the time is close to the aerobic threshold). Introducing high intensity loads throughout the preparation increases the chances of maintaining optimal performance for longer time thanks to the “extra strength”, that is, adding the quality to the training plan.
And is that greater intensity directly requires an increase in the strength applied and therein lies the main virtue of that 20% of training. In addition, key variables such as increased capillarization, greater storage of glycogen and more efficient metabolism also imply an increase in performance.
In addition, with the high intensity training the FT fibers are also stimulated, being able to collaborate with the ST when the these arrive at situations of extreme fatigue, thus obtaining another added benefit that extends the capacity to maintain the desired intensity for longer.
Finally, to create a training plan, 80% of it should be developed at levels equal to or lower than the transition zone (usually Zone-3) and always taking into account that adding loads of greater demand through high intensity sessions (in the anaerobic threshold or above), benefits the whole of the musculature (ST and FT fibers) so that the last kilometers before crossing the desired finish line are a great moment to complete the race.
La entrada THE BALANCE BETWEEN QUALITY AND THE AMOUNT OF TRAINING se publicó primero en JO:SE:RRA.]]>
Six in the morning. Chronometer on. The session begins. The organism starts from a balanced state in which the conditions are ideal to face the workout that will be completed. From there, regardless of the athlete we are talking about, training will involve a physical effort, out from the comfort zone and the stability in which the body is while resting.
During all those hours of effort, the demands at the energy, metabolic, nervous and structural levels will cause the fatigue to increase gradually. That is the goal of training: fatigue. The planning has a goal: months and months calculated to link loads that originate inside the organism the need to overcome that state of controlled fatigue (positive) and prepare for the next session.
But, if training (mostly) is fatigue, when does it improve? When is the performance level increased? Interestingly, when it rests. It is at that moment when recovery occurs at all levels. But not a recovery to reach the same level from which it started, but a recovery that slightly increases the previous one that it had at six in the morning, before the chrono started to time. This process is known as: overcompensation.
The adequate link between sessions that produce fatigue followed by calculated rest phases in which to give time to overcompensation is what leads the athletes to gradually increase their level as they discount days in the calendar to achieve the starting line of their A race. That date, your level of performance should be the highest, the highest in all your planning. With that objective, everybody trains.
The “go” signal sounds and the demand becomes maximum. It’s clear that any endurance race requires a sublime effort. Consequence: extreme fatigue at all levels when the competition is finished. Minutes in which joy merges with exhaustion, in which the emotion of having achieved the goal is mixed with the feeling of zero energy in the body. Minutes, however, in which many minds begin to fly to the next challenge thinking: what competition will I do next season?
But it’s time to stop. It’s time to rest. It is time to allow the body and mind a recovery (necessary) at all levels. At the same time, it is the perfect moment so that, thanks to those weeks (and even months) after the end of the A race, it is easier for the organism to assimilate and consolidate what during all the planning it has achieved: increase its performance level.
Therefore it is necessary to reduce the requirement, allow the body to close wounds. It will be months of transition until the beginning of the next season in which the training must be present and well balanced with days of total rest. In this way, the greatest and best overcompensation possible will be achieved, since the organism will thus increase its potential possibilities of surpassing the level reached in the season that ends.
Dave Scott, one of the most important triathletes in history and a great coach at the moment expressed with a sentence the importance of the transition phase (the one that goes from one season to the next): “the champions are made during the off-season”. This makes reference to the fact that it is key to have the training planned in that phase to, on the one hand, assimilate what has been trained to date and, on the other, to achieve that the performance in the following season is even greater than in the past. It is not worth training in any way and it is not worth not training. Those who want to make a leap in their performance should continue to train correctly and should know how to rest at the same time between those workouts.
On the one hand, if after finishing a season the level of high demand is maintained, to absorb and to consolidate the previously training will not be achieved due to the fact that it will reach a state of fatigue that is too long, losing part of what has been improved to date. Coupled with this, when trying to address the most demanding phases of the next planning the body will not be fully prepared, can not give the best of itself because of the lack of a period (necessary) of less intensity. As a result, recoveries will be worse and the chances of pushing up the performance level will be much lower. The accumulated tiredness caused by a deficit in the rest can even reach the worst scenario: overtraining.
The other extreme will also be true: if absolutely nothing is trained during the transition phase, practically all of the adaptations, of the improvements, will have been lost and with that will start from the same starting point as in the previous season.
So, the middle term will be the answer. It will become essential to do strength training to consolidate functional structures (joints, tendons, ligaments and bones) and also gain a higher level of strength based on personalized planning that addresses the key points that each athlete needs to improve
At the same time, combined sessions of high intensity (very short) and low intensity (regenerative) will be fundamental to grow. In addition, other kind of stimulus that are not the usual ones, practicing sports different from the specific one of each person, will also be positive both physiologically and mentally because the change of activity will be an attraction and a new incentive.
In conclusion, to make the next season better than the current one, at the end of the last main competition, in addition to increasing rest, plan your training in a personalized way so that the transition phase that goes from one season to the next, performance start pointing up for the next challenge you dream of.
La entrada CHAMPIONS ARE MADE DURING THE OFF-SEASON se publicó primero en JO:SE:RRA.]]>
Train, train and train. When the first step is taken to address any competition, the verb that follows that moment is always to train. To prepare 30 trillions of cells for the hardest day, for the most demanding meters, for the biggest dream can not be achieved in any other way that perform a test daily. Therefore, training, training and training is the basis.
In the 70s and 80s some Eastern European countries were convinced that the more they trained, the better. But with the advance of science and research around sports physiology evidence showed the opposite: training is the basis, of course, but to train more (with no limit) doesn’t mean to get more improvements in performance.
The twentieth century has been left behind and yet still today some athletes and coaches continue with the conviction that “more is better”. They take their plans to limits in which the body of the athlete is unable to properly absorb the loads, something that prevents it from adapting correctly and therefore obtain the benefits that otherwise would achieve with the consequent increase in performance.
When summer is reached for many the end of the season of training and competitions arrives, while for others August is a month of transition before the second phase of the year. For some and others, monitoring the symptoms of excessive fatigue is key.
Essential in the process of improvement is the identification of signs that indicate a potential overtraining to not reach it. This arrives for several reasons, among which we can highlight the succession of incomplete rest between sessions for long periods of time, the accumulation of excessive loads that the body is unable to absorb and the incorrect replenishment of nutrients parallel to the training process.
But the body warns. And it warns when the bar is getting very high in the training process. It is sending signals that taken into account in time make it possible to stop a process of excessive fatigue that if it’s not stopped may take months to be reversed.
The first identification of excessive training can be seen through the resting heart rate. Seconds after wake up and still in the bed with the light off, the heart rate are a key data. It is therefore important to take this information regularly after having slept between 7 and 9 hours. At the moment that the resting heart rate increases between 5 and 10 beats/minute for several consecutive days we can consider that the organism is making an extra effort to recover, that is, fatigue persists. This increase in the resting heart rate is therefore due to a greater activity of the organism during the night to be able to regenerate.
Accompanying this first data, the decrease or lack of appetite during some days is a second point of attention to which we must pay attention. While the body is demanding more energy to recover from training, the signals that produce the feeling of hunger are inhibited, something that prevents the replenishment of nutrients is optimal and thus fatigue is accumulated by not being able to regenerate the tissues and energy storage.
During the night, another unmistakable sign is the inability to sleep properly. This is due to the struggle that the organism is maintaining to recover from the excess of accumulated stress during the training sessions. And this is where this point joins the first: the increased effort to recover all the systems produces an increase in the resting heart rate when measured early in the morning. In short, the heart shows the greatest activity in the body to recover after the load applied.
Finally, a fourth signal is given by the change in mood. Apathy and bad temper, although they are two subjective issues, can also show (always taken into account together with the previous symptoms) an excess of training.
Currently, in addition to these subjective data there are tools to measure the resting heart rate linked to other parameters such as the oxygen saturation of the blood that try to put figures to the recovery of the athlete.
What is clear is that the best answer is always inside. The athlete must listen himself/herself constantly and must interpret each of the signals that his/her body is giving him/her, both during training, knowing how to pace, and during the rest of the day, when he/she is resting. Knowing how to understand each one of those signals with which the organism is constantly expressing itself is the best way to understand what is happening, how the training is going, how planning is developing. The idea is crystal clear: listen to yourself.
La entrada AT THE END OF THE SEASON, IT ATTENDS THE SYMPTOMS OF OVERTRAINING se publicó primero en JO:SE:RRA.]]>
The heart has been one of the most studied organs in the human body since the beginning of medicine, especially because there was a time in which it was related to the place where the soul lived. Heart equals life, in every way.
When medicine began to know how it responded during physical activity, attention was placed on it to control the workouts and to know what limits it reached when competing, especially in endurance races. And the fact is that the facility to measure the heart rate by placing the second and third fingers on the jugular was the first “heart rate monitor” used and from there, with the development of technology, the arrival of the heart rate monitors occurred. Now they are part of long distance traveler’s baggage.
It is evident that the heart rate is a fundamental variable to know and measure the athlete, but a variable that is necessary to know and from which certain data can be used, while other information do not indicate anything relevant to us.
If I review the most frequent question that athletes ask me when I meet them to talk about their training and planning, it always revolves around their heart rate and the relationship of this with other athletes. The sentence could be something like this: “when I train I see 185 beats per minute in my heart rate monitor while my partner moves arround 170”. The inverse would also be valid: “I looked at the heart rate monitor and when I see 165 beats my colleague is around 180”.
At that moment, the answer to that habitual conception that the pulse is used to compare two athletes has to be based on this idea: the data provided by a heart rate monitor only is useful to compare a person with himself/herself and thus know if he/she evolves.
The number of times the heart beats for one minute depends to a great extent on anatomical and physiological conditions that do not indicate a best or worse performance of the athlete. Among them, the size of the heart, the size of its muscles, the strength of that muscles (myocardium), the size of the heart cavities, the size of the arteries and veins that supply the entire organism, the amount of capillaries and the ability to maintain better ventilation (at the pulmonary level) are factors that affect the heart to have a higher or lower rate (higher or lower heart rate).
Therefore, two people with the same speed can have a different heart rate depending on all these variables. For example, a heart of a smaller size will beat more times than a larger one, without this being a condition for performance, without being that smaller size of the heart a problem, so that the athlete can maintain equal or even more power than the athlete with a heart higher.
A perfect example is obtained by reviewing the maximum heart rates of winners of the Tour de France. All of them are able to generate a power around 5.7 w/kg in their FTP (the most important data that marks their performance and we will talk about in other blog posts), although some do it at 175bpm and others at 195bpm. Is there a difference in their level? No, there is not. For the same reason the maximum heart rate is not used to know the performance level that can reach an athlete. There are no Tour ranking, nor any other endurance competition, based on the maximum heart rate that the athlete can reach.
For what is the heart rate monitor useful is to measure the evolution of heart rate in the same person. The comparison with himself/herself is a criterion that helps to know if he/she improves in his/her performance or if he/she is fatigued and does not absorb the training loads. For example, if for the same power the athlete shows a lower heart rate he/she will be directly showing a positive adaptation that will be associated with a higher performance. In short, the heart rate being compared to the power will be demonstrating in this case that the athlete is more efficient.
Another of the usual questions that athletes ask me is if they should continue using the heart rate monitor when they have already purchased a powermeter. And the answer is clear: of course. The previous example and the analysis of other variables that are studied in the athlete relate to how the heart rate behaves in relation to the power and with it one can even plan in a completely personalized way the training loads and the phases of the season. Thanks to that each athlete trains according to his/her characteristics, his/her qualities and comes to compete at his/her best.
On the other hand, another way to take advantage of the use of the heart rate monitor is to measure the resting heart rate since, compared to the same person during the course of the season, it can indicate when the athlete is well recovered between training days and when is accumulating fatigue helping even reduce the loads to avoid overtraining.
But, how to know what are the exact reference heart rates in each athlete? Simple: through a stress test in which, in addition to observing the health of the heart, the functioning of that wonderful part of the wonderful human body is analyzed, knowing with total precision what heart rate develops for each training zone.
In short, the heart rate monitor is a fundamental tool to know the athlete and to train correctly, especially if used in conjunction with the powermeter, but a tool that only talks of that athlete in particular, without being any possibility of comparing him/her with others. In one sentence: the heart rate is completely individual.
La entrada HOW TO USE THE HEART RATE TO TRAIN se publicó primero en JO:SE:RRA.]]>