Now's the time to get set for Spring!
Building a strong foundation for your training is an essential part of any training programming. Every athlete should go through a Preparation Phase in their training schedule. This can range from four to twelve weeks, depending on the level of athlete, and what they are coming off the back of in terms of racing or rest periods.
This all important Prep phase is key to getting your body mentally and physically ready to take on the training that you require of it for your goal events. Often athletes move headlong into race simulation sessions too far out from race day and run the risk of burning out before their big event.
Athletes that are new to a distance or type of race will need a longer prep phase to allow their bodies to adapt to the new physiological implications of training. Experienced athletes require a shorter but still focused prep phase to encourage the body back into rhythmic training post ‘off season’ or in transition time between key events.
Your prep phase should be treated as importantly as your race specific phases later in your training, as it forms a fundamental part of your ability to reap the rewards down the road.
Planning your preparation phase: what sort of sessions should you be including?
Look at specific technique work for your chosen sport. Do you need to swim more efficiently, run easier or get through those technical sessions on a mountain bike? Work with a coach, use video feedback, attend workshops. Add 2 – 3 x 30min practice sessions that are purely focused around form, not intensity. If your event contains more than one sport, then work on the area that you are weakest in. There is no magic pill for this stuff, practice does indeed make permanent!
Strength work is a common overlooked aspect of many athletes’ training – there’s still a big misconception about the benefits of strength training for supporting other sports. We aren’t talking lifting heavy here, this is specific strength work to increase power and performance in your sport. Done right, strength sessions will help build foundational strength, increase endurance, prevent injury and improve balance and co-ordination.
Work on key muscles groups both in focused isolated movements, and also in dynamic functional movement patterns that simulate your sport. Squats are great for strength, but as a runner or cyclist you work single limb, so look to bring elements that promote these patterns into your workouts.
Our Karmea group TRX and circuit sessions are designed to build strength in multisport athletes, or you can book a block of personalised one-on-one session with one of our Karmea coaches.
Yep, that old chestnut! It just won’t go away will it…and for good reason. We’ve seen athletes improve their performance just by building a greater range of motion into their bodies. Chances are you already know where your tightness and problem areas are, so during this prep phase, take time to pay them all some additional attention.
Stretch every day, working on a different specific area on different days. Make friends with your foam roller! Start to build in a regular stretch routine now so that when you step up training, it’s part of what you do.
Yin yoga is one of our favourite practices for our athletes. Holding a stretch for 3-5mins releases deep into your fascia, tendons and muscles.
Your prep phase is the time to NAIL any existing injuries. Physios, ART therapy, massage and specific exercises for your problem child should all be paid additional attention now. We are always surprised at how many athletes up their distance and enter training programmes when they are still nursing injuries from previous races. The load on your body is not going to get any lighter once you start training, so get those niggles addressed during your prep phase.
Start ticking over in your training, adding in sessions at low to moderate intensity and distance. Remember we are getting the body ready to start training, convincing it that it really, really wants to start this.
Be patient, don’t go hard or fast too soon as this will risk burn out later down the road. Let go of holding pace, and just feel into each session, listening to what your body has to tell you as you prepare to take it onto it’s next adventure.
Nutrition & Hydration
If you’ve had a bit of an off season, it’s perfectly natural to let the diet slip, and also stop taking in as much hydration. You just get out of the habit. Work on getting back into a good rhythm with your food, eating before training when required, during sessions if the duration is sufficient enough, and getting your recovery nutrition and hydration on the go after each workout.
Remember the quality of output from your body will be geared by the quality of everything you put into it. That includes not only your physical training and movement inputs, but also giving your body quality food and lots of water.
So, if you are ready to step up to your next challenge, consider the Preparation Phase in your training BEFORE you start to layer on too much intensity.
Get your body as ready as it can be for the journey ahead – the time you invest now will be reaped later on. Think about this as the important planning phase of a great adventure. How well you prepare in this leg will determine the outcome in 3, 6, or 12 months time. How much do you want that goal??
Sarah Anne Evans is the head coach for Karmea. She is an established triathlon and endurance coach with experience helping athletes at all levels achieve their goals, and a background of 15 years of race experience over various distances and disciplines.