Maintenance Training

Things have been very busy over the last 2 weeks, with both work and coaching commitments meaning that my training has been in maintenance mode. I’ve managed to average about an hour of training a day, with a couple of early morning swim sessions each week getting me back in the regular swimming routine.

I schedule my standard ‘basic week’ so that I swim every other day on the weekday mornings, and then alternate running or cycling each evening. This basic week gives me three swims, three runs and three rides each week. From there, it’s easy to tweak the week by adding in a brick run off the bike one day, giving an additional run, or by adding an extra ride. As the summer approaches and the nights and mornings get lighter, I’ll start to add more cycling sessions by commuting to work on my bike, which is about an hour each way. As I get fitter, I’ll extend the ride home until I’m getting in a midweek ride of up to three hours. Although I wish I could get more training in during the winter, at least the dark nights mean that I get to the spring ready to go rather than burnt out.

When I’m extremely busy I revert to my standard ‘maintenance’ training plan. I work on the principle that I can always find thirty minutes each day, no matter how busy I am. Although a thirty minute session in itself might not be much of a training stimulus, the benefit of keeping your body used to the movement patterns of each sport will help prevent loss of fitness. Any kind of training is better than nothing, and it takes a lot less training to maintain fitness than it does to build it.

In terms of intensity, it’s tempting to fall into the idea that if you only have limited time then you should do every session hard. It’s certainly something that I’ve experimented with in the past. However, right now I’m favouring the idea of trying to keep the higher intensities to two sessions a week – one on the bike on one on the run – with the rest of the sessions as aerobic maintenance, no matter how short they are. My ‘hard’ sessions will include blocks of work at Functional Threshold pace or power – for example, I’ll do a session of 6 x 4-5 minutes at FTP off a minutes recovery in one of the sports, and a longer FTP workout in the other. This week, it’s been 1km repeats up a slight incline for the run session, and a 10 mile TT effort on the i-magic (which, for reference, is about 30 minutes of hard work when you include the warm up.)  

If time restraints or work commitments mean that I have to miss a bike or run session completely, I simply make sure that I do that sport in my next available training window. However, if I miss a swim, I don’t replace it – I just move on with the week.

My average power was up 15 watts higher than the previous week during my TT this week. Small gains will keep adding up in the run up to Ironman Germany. At the moment, I’m averaging about 25W lower than my life best FTP numbers. Given the time of year, I’m pretty happy with where I am. I'm confident that as the days get longer and I have more time to do more miles, the fitness I've held over the winter will give me a good base to work from.

January is always the month that I find hardest to get through – lack of daylight means I’m unwilling to risk commuting by bike, and my mood always suffers when my training (and consequently, my endorphins) is limited. This week I managed to get in my two hour long run home from work, and most of it was in daylight. Won’t be long now and I’ll be back on my bike to work.