With spring kicking off, now is a great time to get back into your training routine. But don't let your ambitions get the best of youwhen returning to a fitness program, it's important not to jump back into heavy training too quickly. Instead, target a well-designed program that will have you healthy and ready to knock off your spring fitness goals. Here's a regimen for getting you on the right track:
Build a Strong Foundation
A strong aerobic base needs to be established early in the season to act as a foundation on which build the rest of your training. Many athletes ignore the importance of this period and want to immediately train at their highest intensity. They will soon find that they are unable to sustain their intensity for very long, and, in the process, they'll increase the likelihood of injury. Incorporating lower-intensity workouts that focus on building your aerobic energy system will help build a solid base and reduce the likelihood of injury in the first two weeks of training.
This is also a great time to work on transferring any gains from resistance training to your specific sport. This is accomplished by incorporating strength drill workouts into your program. For cyclists, this can mean over-geared intervals, like powering up to speed from a near standstill, or climbing a long, gradual hill with a very slow cadence and high resistance. For runners it can mean uphill intervals. By teaching your muscles to use the increased strength in a more functional manner, your training benefits much more.
Working on required skills that might be rusty from the previous year is also a good idea at this point in the season. Incorporating workouts that focus on form and technique will help you to optimize your efficiency and keep you performing smoothly throughout the season.
Optimal Training Progression
Oftentimes, athletes increase their training stimulus too quickly and end up paying for it later in the season. Overtraining, fatigue, and injury can be the result of poorly timed training progression. Gradually progressing through your fitness training will not only help you adapt to increasing exercise intensities, it will also decrease the likelihood of injury, and help maximize your fitness. The following are one-week cycling and running recommendations you can use for the first one to two weeks of your return to training.
Cycling - Sample Week
Monday - Off Day
Tuesday - 45-minute FoundationMilesTM, include 3 x 1-minute FastPedalsTM with 3 minutes rest between efforts.
Wednesday - 30-minute FoundationMiles, include 3 x 20-second StompsTM with 5 minutes rest between efforts.
Thursday - 45-minute FoundationMiles, include 3 x 1-minute FastPedals with 3 minutes rest between efforts.
Friday - Off Day or 30 minute RecoveryMilesTM
Saturday - 45-minute FoundationMiles, include 2 x 12-second PowerStartsTM with 5 minutes rest between efforts.
Sunday - 1-hour FoundationMiles
FoundationMiles - This is a low-intensity workout utilizing the aerobic energy system. Use lighter gearing and keep pedal cadence between 85-95 rpm.
PowerStarts - This is a short, maximal burst, designed to develop power and convert the strength gained from resistance training to your cycling. Use large gearing and begin the effort at a low speed and near standstill, jump up on the pedals, and perform the exercise standing out of the saddle.
FastPedals - This is a workout focusing on improving pedaling stroke and efficiency. Use light gearing and keep pedal cadence very high, 105-130+. While staying in the saddle, work on applying pressure through the entire pedal stroke, pulling through the bottom and over the top. Avoid bouncing and rocking your hips.
Stomps - This is a workout designed to improve muscular strength and power. It converts the strength gained from resistance training to your cycling. Use large gearing and begin the effort at a moderate speed. While staying in the saddle, begin stomping the pedals as hard as possible.
RecoveryMiles - This is a low-intensity workout, designed to assist training adaptations. Use light gearing and keep cadence between 75-85 rpm. Relax and keep the effort light to help promote the active recovery process.
Running - Sample Week
Monday - Off Day
Tuesday - 30-minute FoundationRunTM, include 4 x 10-second RunningStridesTM with 2 minutes rest between efforts completed before or after the FoundationRun
Wednesday - 25-minute RecoveryRunTM
Thursday - 30-minute FoundationRun, include 2 sets of 3 x 25-second RunningDrillsTM completed before or after the Foundation Run
Friday - Off Day or 25-minute RecoveryRun
Saturday - 30-minute FoundationRun, include 1 set of 2 x 25-second StrengthDrillsTM completed after the FoundationRun
Sunday - 35-minute FoundationRun, include 1 x 15-minute SteadyStateRunTM completed within the FoundationRun
FoundationRun - This is a low-intensity workout, utilizing the aerobic energy system. Keep your heart rate low and run at a steady pace.
SteadyStateRun - This is a workout designed to improve sustainable pace at lactate threshold by training just below this point. Run at a steady pace while keeping your heart rate just below your heart rate at lactate threshold.
RecoveryRun - This is a low-intensity workout, designed to assist training adaptations. Relax and keep the effort light to help promote the active recovery process.
RunningStrides - This is a workout used to keep the fast-twitch muscle fibers activated, and to teach your body to be more dynamic. Run at a pace 30-60 seconds below your 5-kilometer race pace, focusing on your running mechanics.
StrengthDrills - This is a workout designed to improve and maintain muscular strength and power and converts the strength gained from resistance training to your running. There are two drills that should be incorporated into this workout.
Two-Legged Hopping: Start with both feet and legs together. Hop a comfortable distance forward (2-3 feet).
Freehand Front Lunge: Stand with your hands on your hips, your back straight, head up, and feet 30 cm apart. Step forward as far as possible with the right leg, until upper right thigh is almost parallel to the floor. Keep the left leg straight as possible. Step forward with the left leg until you are back in the starting position. Continue to alternate right and left.
RunningDrills - This is a workout designed to improve running stride, coordination, and neuromuscular recruitment of specific muscle fibers. There are three drills that should be incorporated into this workout, A's, B's, and C's;
A's: Performed by marching, skipping, or running. Keep your head up, get high knee lift, coordinate opposite arm with opposite leg, and snap your leg back down into position.
B's: Performed by marching or skipping. This is an extension of A's, where you lift your knee like you are doing an 'A' and then kick your foot out forward, finish by a quick acceleration of the ball of the foot to the ground (like you are scraping mud off the bottom of your shoe).
C's: Performed by running. Run with high heel lift, tapping your heels lightly and quickly to your butt (also known as "butt kicks").
Train right with tips and tricks and of the trade from Chris Carmichael and Carmichael Training Systems, at www.trainright.com.