I hate New Year resolutions. Aside from the fact it’s a failed strategy, I never understood why we need the calendar to change before we start to change. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made resolutions (to “lose weight” for example) in the past. I’ve stuck to them for a while, but then my motivation faded and I was back to burying my ass in the couch with a 6-pack and a bag of Cheetos.
While losing weight is a broad resolution, it’s not the worst one for endurance athletes. I’d venture to say the worst one is resolving to increase your mileage in 2019. Whether it be in the pool, on the bike, or running miles, simply increasing your mileage is the worst thing you can do.
When you decide to up your mileage it’s mostly to receive the gift of a perceived increase in fitness. I say “perceived” because while you’re blindly adding a mile or two to each run, or 30-45 minutes to every ride you’re actually doing more harm than good.
It’s no secret that those athletes, typically the “social media heroes” as I like to the call them, who are adding more volume and more intensity are the ones who tend to be more tired, over-trained, and throw in the towel faster than the rest of us.
Instead of adding stress and reducing recovery, why not incorporate more structured sessions to your training? It’s more efficient from a fitness standpoint and will save you hours of valuable time in the long run.
Here are three workouts for you to incorporate into your training that, when done properly, will increase your fitness without putting you at risk for injury or taking up all of your day.
Warm up with 500 yards at an easy pace. The main set here is 7x200 at a moderate to hard pace with 15 seconds of recovery between each 200 yard effort. Cool down with another easy effort for 500 yards.
Spending time at the moderate to hard swim pace will allow you to increase your velocity in the water. The short rest intervals tests your aerobic endurance while requiring you to focus on maintaining your heart rate.
Warm up for 10 minutes, increasing your power output gradually. Follow that by a few minutes of easy spinning before the main set. The main set consists of 3 sets of 3x2-minute repeats above threshold at 120% of your FTP. Between each two minute effort take three minutes to catch your breath and between each set of three, take a six minute recovery spin.
By working through VO2 MAX intervals you’ll experience significant gains in both aerobic and anaerobic power with little time investment. VO2 MAX repeats improve VO2 MAX itself obviously, but they also increase muscle endurance and aerobic endurance. The good news is this positive adaptation happens in far less time than the similar stimulus gained during long hours of long, slow distance.
Warm up for five minutes at a conversational pace, then bump it up slightly for another five minutes. Once you’ve had your 10 minutes of easy effort it’s time to open it up a little bit. Perform 7 sets of two minutes at your Zone 4 pace, followed by two minute recoveries at your Zone 1 pace. Follow that main set with five minutes at Zone 2 and the final five minutes in Zone 1.
These short intervals in Zone 4 provide a decent stimulus to increase your aerobic capacity without forcing you to totally bury yourself. This allows for better recovery so you can successfully hit your workouts throughout the week.
If you have your 2019 resolutions ready to go, make them specific and time-based. It’ll help you stay focused and apply the proper training to execute them effectively. They must be realistic as well. Losing 100 pounds by April isn’t realistic. Losing 100 pounds by January 2020 is more realistic, but it’s also very difficult. Something like increasing your FTP by 5% by April is specific, realistic, and time-based to keep you engaged.
Here’s a look at my workouts from this previous week. It was a little light with Christmas travel and allowing myself to get more sleep.
Swim: 5350 yards