Training Between Tightly-spaced Races
One of the greatest challenges as both a coach and an athlete is training between several tightly-spaced races. Short local races can fit well into a regular training program, but big races with extended travel really disrupt training. Consider the demands of each race and what that means for adaptation and recovery. Here are a few pointers to keep you on track.
Don’t Train Through Big Races
Give each race the respect it deserves. The biggest mistake is to stack up key sessions around races, arrive at a race with a list of excuses, under-perform, and double down on training as a response. Maladaptation occurs when you undertake high intensity, long duration training/racing without adequate recovery. Keep in mind that supercompensation only occurs when you back off that throttle and allow adaptation to occur.
Races Replace Key Workouts
Instead, consider each race the most important session of your week and allow for short recovery blocks before and after. If done properly, you will push yourself harder and for longer than possible in your normal training and get a good fitness response if recovery is adequate.
For key workouts between races, it depends on the length of the race and the timing of your next event. If your races are on back-to-back weekends, then your only other high intensity session might be mid-week and doesn’t need to be at the same training load as a typical key workout. If you go a full week without any high intensity, then consider a few openers (short intervals) on the day before the next race.
Recovering between races is important, but that doesn’t mean taking time off. Don’t confuse recovery with complete rest. First, focus on maintaining frequency of your training between races while you back off intensity and volume. This will help maintain your biorhythms, sleep patterns, basic endurance, and neuromuscular patterning. Also, keeping your training schedule is great for adjusting between time zones if that is an issue.
Become a Travel Pro
First, do your research. Book flights early and plan your itinerary in advance. Research workout routes, pools, gyms at your destination.
Also plan your diet with the same intention, carrying your own foods on planes or making good decisions (most of the time).
Rest every chance you get. As a parent, travel can sometimes be easier than your normal hectic life. Take cat naps on planes or during layovers, bring ear plugs, sleep mask, and a travel pillow.
Nothing is tougher on the athlete than prolonged sitting. Change positions, stand, walk,and stretch frequently while traveling. Bring a tennis ball or roller and work some trigger points while you wait in airports. The best use of compression socks are for long flights.
Focus on more than just outcome goals for your races. There are always races within the race, so break down the race and find areas to work on both physically and mentally so you continue to grow from race to race. Gain race experience by practicing pacing, nutrition, transitions, and get to know your strengths and weaknesses.
Adjust the Plan
Performance is usually a good indicator of cumulative fatigue. If you felt stuck in the mud for an entire race and underperformed, you may need to adjust for better recovery. This might even mean skipping the next race and getting your training back on track.