It’s nice out (for the most part) and you’re probably getting the urgency to put in some serious work. I love the motivation, but here are some points that hopefully convince you to proceed with caution.
It is not “un-heard of” for endurance athletes to set personal records well into their 60’s. Not because they decided to get there act together after retirement, but rather they have put in a huge, injury-free, base for many years. What they’re seeing is a compounding effect of all the miles they’ve ever put into their body.
No one workout will make your season, but one workout can definitely break it. I encourage you to err on the side of caution during intervals and tempo or threshold work. The most likely spot of injury I see is during running. First off, don’t go too fast. Intervals should be somewhere close to 95% of V02 max. Tempos should feel “comfortably hard” and very sustainable. If your workouts feel too difficult, you are not only risking injury, but possibly training out of your most effective zone. I find that with endurance athletes, I am commonly “pulling the reins” rather than “cracking the whip,” so don’t get the feeling that you’re slacking off. Even midway through the season, when you’re getting faster, do not be tempted to set records during speed days. Wait until race day. Even then, consider if any race is worth injuring yourself for. Even your “A” race may not be worth the injury, especially if it knocks you out for the next season… Secondly, I encourage walk breaks during run workouts. I have a rule, “whatever walking you do during running, counts towards your total run time.” Remember the term “no pain no gain” we all grew up learning in gym class? It is very wrong.
Don’t forget the recovery techniques: Sleeping properly/ regularly, eating healthy, walk breaks, recovery workouts, keeping intensity low when needed, foam rolling/self massage, professional massage, and other stress relieving practices such as yoga. Ultimately find what works for you, and do it routinely. Potential injuries always show up from training. Listen to your body and deal with them. Don’t allow them to turn into full blown injuries. Working out is like putting pennies in the jar. These extra recovery techniques are like putting a second penny in the jar.
A Personal Story: I will never forget one runner from college. He never stepped out of his proper zones, always scheduled time for recovery, and made about a paragraph of notes from each workout. Despite being the number one runner on the team, he would often fall out of the team training runs. It surprised me that the rest of the team never paid attention to his discipline, and instead were always “competing” with each other in training, and often getting very injured at a young age. He was the school record holder for the 5k and 10k. I try to think about him, when someone fly’s past me in a training session.
Make this a good couple months of pre-season training rather than a few record setting workouts. Many of you are starting to see the compounding effects of a couple years of training – both performance and weight loss. Let’s build another great year into your base.
Article contributed by Coach John Taipale.