After several years of doing long course, I realized that my speed (aka: tolerance for sucking it up) was sinking, dramatically.
It has been said, IRONMAN does NOT make you FAST... in fact, it will beat the crap out of you over time: mentally, physically, & metabolically...
And so my response was to kick the distance to the curb and put myself in the speed arena (short course: Sprint & Olympic distance racing).
For those who haven't truly raced at short course in awhile: it is humbling, daunting, and it hurts like all-get-out at times.
BUT, it is also stimulating, refreshing in a sort of twisted way, and it TEACHES you so much about the sport and racing.
My goal last year: Top 5 AG at USAT Nationals. This required me to race a lot and keep my eyes open to how these girls raced, if I was to hang on.
Here are just a few things I learned about training for short course.
TRAINING FOR SHORT COURSE
As expected, the number of training hours were definitely reduced. BUT, the sessions were easy when they were scheduled as easy, and very hard when I was suppose to go hard. There wasn't a lot of wasted time just 'kinda' pushing the pace. That is probably one of the biggest issues I have with clients and also at times I find myself defaulting to as an athlete. We honestly think we are going hard when in all actuality, we might be uncomfortable out on a long ride with some threshold intervals during distance training. But guess what... in the big picture, that isn't eyeballs popping out of our head, lungs about to explode, that short course demands. As painful as that sounds, the short course workouts are just that - short - so you know in the back of your head you can grit and grind your way through it!
Short course allows athletes to see improvements on a consistent basis. With long course, there are many sessions that are more vague and the benchmark may simply be about more time hitting the pavement. With short course, you can almost see athletes check off and push new limits on a weekly basis. Improvements come with the mental, physical, and metabolic stimulation.
When an athlete talks about burn out or not being motivated, I always think, "When was the last session that they felt like a little kid?" Not using metrics as a boundary but rather only later as a review, and just letting their body fly freely... I compare it to when you used to race your bike down the street against your friends.... remember, it was so fun to go fast!
When the build is done correctly and there are adequate recovery sessions or days between the harder efforts of short course, you most definitely see progress and motivation!
Another aspect of short training is less time training so more time for LIFE & balance. With the growing number of "couch to long distance" triathletes, the idea of triathlon as a lifestyle is being missed. Whether it be time, energy or money, long course takes a significant amount away from our daily life and commitments.
Many sessions, I might have felt like my lungs and legs were going to implode at times IN the workouts, they didn't steal my entire day, nor do they take away from other many aspects of my life. I like to explain it like this- You could literally race almost every weekend, be done before noon, meet the family for brunch, check off some "honey-do's" (aka: chores), play with the kids, and grill up some dinner... that is a full day, but a balanced day.
I found in short course this awesome balance and it agreed with my philosophy as a coach, "We are all athletes of LIFE... health, fitness, training, it is all built around the idea of making you more available FOR life.
Triathlon and training are a part of a bigger picture. I love and want to help establish plans that allow athletes to create lives that are consistent and congruent to their goals, both in and out of sport!"
These are simply a few aspects of the joys of training from short course.
Next time, I will point out the significant differences between short course and long distance triathlon swimming.
Till next time, train with a smile~