General Training Principles: Part 2 of 2


General Training Principles Part 2 of 2.

To recap my training regimen has eight parts.

Practicing the sport
Warm-up, cool-down, volume, and intensity
Strength work
Cardiovascular work
Periodization
Stretching
Mental training
Rest

Today I will talk about the first part, practicing my sport—in this case, speed skating. Many of you can do your sport daily, like running or cycling.  I can skate on the ice (when available), rollerblade, do imitation skating on dry land, or use a slide-board.

Recently I learned about a high school cross country progarm that was consistently winning over many decades.  They did not run everyday.  They ran hard about 3 days a week and in-between, they would do recovery work on a bike and swimming.  So even when pratcticing your sport like running everyday is not necessary or even desirable.

By applying the general principles of athletic training to anything that requires commitment, dedication, perseverance, and discipline, you can achieve extraordinary results.

Practicing my sport When I started skating as a youngster, what attracted me was the sport itself and the joy of doing it. We must all remember our roots and our early motivation to get us through the hard work of training.

When I skate and race, I put everything together: strength, endurance, technique, cardio work, mental training, everything. This is my toughest test, as well as my best barometer of progress. Here is where the skate meets the ice.

There is nothing natural about speed skating. It is a purely learned activity that requires a fair amount of strength. Because of the strength required, skaters do not have the luxury of a lot of repetition. In order to skate technically well, a skater cannot be too tired. When I get tired, my technique suffers and thereby my speed. In the United States, we have long track ice at two indoor 400-meter ovals about six months of the year from September through March. If the rink is outdoor the season is even shorter. In Olympic years, we might have ice indoors a month or so longer. It is important to skate, but it is also important to do off-ice imitation skating in the form of inline skating, dry-land training, and slide-board. I am constantly refining my technique to get the maximum speed.

When I skate, I have several types of workouts. One workout is endurance skating: many laps at low intensity concentrating on technique and efficiency. Another workout is at race pace for short distances, typically 400 to 600 meters. We have several types of interval workouts as well, which intersperse hard skating with periodic rests. Then we have sprint workouts where we go all out hard for very short distances, interspersed with long rests. The goal is to refine our technique on the ice, since there is no true substitute, while simulating the different parts of racing. My coach is usually on hand for these sessions to direct and modify training as I go, as well as help to refine technique.

In whatever sport you are engaged in, you must learn to apply some amount of technique. Even something as seemingly simple as cycling can benefit because you can learn more efficient ways of pedaling. In speed skating, technique is extremely important. The faster I want to go, the better I must skate technically. This means striving for great body positioning and the most efficient way to push into the ice. If I have poor technique, I will skate slowly. When I improve my ability to apply my motor to the ice, I go faster and longer with the same effort.

By getting some coaching or going to a clinic for your sport will enhance your experience.

The benefits are worth it, you are worth it!

Your best is yet to come!

General Training Principles: Part 1of 2


General Training Priciples: Part 1

Good luck to all my Masters Speed Skating brothers and sisters competing in Calgary this weekend at the Masters World All-Around Championships.  All of you will have fun, enjoy the competition and family of masters, as well as set seasons best, personal bests and World Records!

One of my early memories of growing up is doing crazy things. Little did I know that this kind of play was the beginning of my training. Bart (one of my two younger brothers) and I were probably about 6 and 8 years old at the time. We had skateboards, the kind that were about 2 feet long with metal roller skating wheels bolted to the bottom. Our driveway from the house to the sidewalk was sloped slightly, so we could get a little speed rolling downhill, maybe a fast walking speed. After mastering the skateboard on the driveway, we tried some other stuff. Bart liked hanging upside down on the monkey bars across the street in the park. When we started to go down the driveway on the skateboard in a handstand, it seemed like a logical progression from our other activities. This helped both of us to develop strength and balance early. Certainly, it helped Bart in his gymnastics career, and it also helped me in my balance for skating.

Making time to put in the work can be hard. I was asked the other day about how I find the time to train at this level. My answer was that I don’t find the time, I make the time. This goes back to setting goals and priorities. Following through with a training plan is easier when I make the time. It has taken years to put myself into a job that allows blocks of time off to pursue my other passions. By carefully looking at our schedules, we can figure out ways to make time to pursue our goals and keep our priorities straight. We all have unexpected things come up in our lives that require us to put us off our training schedules. Adaptation with balance is the key to making progress.

Athletic training, in general, has two major parts: building the motor (strength, endurance, cardio), and then developing the technique to apply it. My knowledge and expertise has been developed by trial and error and by talking to other athletes on similar paths. The lessons I’ve learned in training may be actively applied to other parts of life. My training regimen has eight parts.

Practicing the sport
Warm-up, cool-down, volume, and intensity
Strength work
Cardiovascular work
Periodization
Stretching
Mental training
Rest

Next week I will expand on general training principles.

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Training Cycles, Macro to Micro


Training has its cycles, macro to micro.  The macro cycle starts with the 4 year Olympic cycle. The micro is the cycle within a workout.

We all need to make decisions about how and when to train.  When to go hard, and when to taper off for competition. When to go hard in a workout, when to rest and recover.  Here are some proven guidelines to making those decisions yearly, monthly, weekly, daily and sometimes moment to moment managing our bodies and minds to be our best ever!

There is a reason that the Olympics are every 4 years.  I have been through 2 complete cycles recently now and can attest to the natural flow that it takes.  After an Olympic year we all need a break from the  intense training.  There is a natural need for a less intense season.  Then the build up can continue again towards the next Olympic year.  We all need a break physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.

The speed skating competition season starts in September and ends in March.  After the season is over,  a few weeks off or just recovery work, then off ice training again in preparation for skating in the fall.   Time off consists of recovery work and fun stuff.  I do a lot of low intensity bike work, tennis, golf, swimming, etc.

When training again, increasing gradually, hard for 3 weeks and easy for 1 week. The easy week is very important for the body to have some recovery.  Without a break we are subject to over training and susceptible to injury and illness.

During the competition season I need to be able to peak at the right time.  This requires an easy week or two prior to the competition.  The longer the hard training period the longer the taper prior to the competition.  The taper is done by keeping the intensity but reducing the volume.

In a weekly cycle I train hard all week and take Sundays off.  Sometimes hard training for two days and take an easy recovery day between.  I still need to get in a certain amount of cardio training, strength, and skating in every week.

Even within a single workout there are cycles.  After the warmup and into the meat of a workout I cycle between intense work then rest and recovery.  Intervals followed by a set rest or A very hard effort followed by complete rest.  There a number of different kinds of workouts with this in mind depending on what the objective is that I am trying to obtain.  At the end of the workout I finish the cycle by cooling down and stretching.

So what to do with this information?  Set up a training plan for the 4 year cycle, yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily. Revise it accordingly to fit your needs, desires, competitions and reactions to training feedback and recovery.

Remember, work, recovery, rest, repeat.

My ithlete HRV tool helps with determining how hard to train. It helps me to measure my readiness to train hard or take an easy day.

The Native American indians have a philosophy about circles.  Respect the circles and the cycles of life, it will pay great dividends in all areas of your life.

Masters US Single Distance Championships January 2012, photo by Steve Penland