Spice up your Run and Bike Life!

author : Glenn
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The real secret to improvement in running and bike times is variety within the routine. Endurance activity requires you to vary your training for maximum results.

In financial terms, the proverbial bottom line is to make you faster and more efficient in a race.

The importance of routine
It is a simple rule of endurance: have a routine, but don’t be a slave to it!  I know a number of athletes who struggle with both aspects of this statement. There are those who battle to develop a set routine for training. A routine helps develop consistency. Consistency develops fitness. Athletes often train regularly for a few weeks then lose their momentum. Without consistency and regular training, great results will be sporadic and elusive for the most part. On the other side of the coin, there are athletes who are so entrenched by their routine that there is little room for flexibility. For example, if it’s Tuesday, then they’ll be at a time trial.

The value of variety
The real secret to improvement in running and bike times is variety within the routine.  Endurance activity requires you to vary your training for maximum results.

What do I mean by “vary your training”?
Simply put, your training needs to always be ‘asking your body questions’ (as I call it).

 

Let’s take the time trial example mentioned earlier a bit further. If you always run the same time trial on the same route every week, not only does your mind cease to be challenged, your muscles do also. You need to be doing different forms of the same thing. In other words, if you usually run a time trial once a week, this represents a long interval session. Your options are to change your time trial venues each week. This can be as simple as alternating between time trials on a weekly basis. Run another. If you do not reside near any other organized time trial then have a different objective each week. This will teach your body to run differently.

 

You can be as creative as you like. One week you could decide to start the time trial much faster than usual. Run the first 1-2km at a quicker tempo, then ease off the pace for the next kilometer, possibly increasing pace again for the following kilometer and so on for the duration of the time trial. The following week you could run the first 1-2km slower than usual and pick up the pace in the 3rd kilometer. You do not necessarily have to run kilometer stretches. Make it for 400-600m if you like, or even a 2km stretch.

 
Essentially, what you are doing is not only making it interesting for your mind, but you are also training your body to respond at different times. This is much like fartlek-type intervals.

 
This is a scenario for those who like to include regular time trials in their weekly routine. The same type of situation applies to those who don’t attend these informal races.

 
If you are doing interval work, avoid repeating the same session week in and week out.  Your legs become stale after a time, as does your mind. This is also why it is useful to vary the terrain you run on. As an example, it is seldom I repeat the same session more than 2 consecutive weeks. The third week I do something different in another location. For 2 weeks I may do a particular session on road while the 3rd week I change the intervals and possibly complete the session off road.  Runners are real creatures of habit. Spice up your training to get faster.

Easy and recovery runs
Even on your easy run days, throw in something different. The run remains an easy one in terms of heart rate (HR ) and output but along the way, do some gentle surges, staying within your HR zone.

 
What I often do is imagine I am in a race situation and someone decides to attack. I respond accordingly. However, if it’s a recovery run, then the attack is below race pace. It is merely an increase in tempo for a short burst.

Many of us are what I call “one-paced” athletes. We need to develop other paces to become faster and more efficient.

Bike ideas
So many cyclists and triathletes go out and “just ride.” However, this seldom happens in a bike race. Random attacks happen throughout the race. This is how the strong are sorted from the weak. Your training rides need to follow a similar pattern. In a triathlon you may determine your own pace more than you would in a bike race, but this type of training makes you stronger and faster. You will notice how much better you can be at maintaining a higher pace.

 
Again, allow yourself to be creative. Your ride does not have to follow certain intervals. Simply accelerate for as long or as short as you feel like. This is what I call “informal interval training” You determine the interval time and power output. Remain in the HR zone you need, but “juice it up” a little.

Main benefits
One of the main benefits I have found since I incorporated this form of running and riding is my ability to pick up my pace when I am tired in a race. We all get fatigued in a race situation. This type of training helps you get back to the pace at which you were riding/running, and possibly go faster. Secondly, my training hardly becomes dull and predictable from a physical and mental perspective.

A further note of advice
Train appropriately. In other words, if you have an easy run or bike day, include a component of this training in the workout. If you have a 30-minute run, then 10 minutes of this type of running is sufficient. On a 2-hour easy bike ride, you can include 20-30 minutes of light surges in your ride. Again, I want to emphasize the importance of these increases in tempo. Ensure they fit into your overall HR zone for the day.

Now go out there and revitalize your training because, as one famous advert says, “You’re worth it!”

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date: May 16, 2005

Glenn

I am an elite duathlete here in South Africa. I compete in Powerman Long distance duathlons around the world. Had some good results in the last few years like 4th in Japan, 5th in Malaysia, 6th in France and South Africa and recently 15th pro at Powerman Zofingen.
Was ranked 16th in the Powerman world rankings at the beginning of 2003.

avatarGlenn

I am an elite duathlete here in South Africa. I compete in Powerman Long distance duathlons around the world. Had some good results in the last few years like 4th in Japan, 5th in Malaysia, 6th in France and South Africa and recently 15th pro at Powerman Zofingen.
Was ranked 16th in the Powerman world rankings at the beginning of 2003.

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