Too much of a good thing is never good.
Well, this also holds true when it comes to training for a specific event. While specificity of training (that is, training specifically for the event one will compete in) is very important, specialising too early, or being too repetitive in training is a sure way to develop injuries down the track. So laying a solid foundation, one that will be the base for the highest possible peak of success, requires well planned variety.
Imagine the position of a road cyclist…
Yep, the one on the right – it’s a very flexed position, and one that is typically held for hours on end. While the right capacity needs to be built to hold that position, you can also imagine that how tight that back, neck and hips could get after a while! Especially if time in that position is ramped up very quickly from a low base. So one of the challenges during this time for me, is to build the required fitness to complete the 1100km ride from Melbourne to Adelaide (as part of the Leukaemia Foundations’ Ride as One), and stay injury free in the process.
This can also apply to any athlete during the early stages of a pre-season, where a good foundation for greater intensities down the track needs to be achieved without tearing a hamstring or an achilles! This is particularly important for young athletes showing promise in a particular sport. The temptation is to increase the amount of training and competition in that sport at the expense of other sporting activities. The research is extremely clear, that as much diversification early on in the career of an athlete is extremely valuable.
So how do I put this into practice?
Well, at the moment I’m focusing on building resilience – on building the key capacities that will protect me as the kilometres start to mount up. You may remember an earlier post where I talked about the assessments I put myself through to make sure I addressed my musculoskeletal, postural and movement weak links? Well, I’m spending time at the moment addressing those, such as my tight hip flexors (right worse than left), my tight calves (left worse than right), a weaker right hip stabiliser, etc, etc. I’m trying to improve my alignment and movement foundations. On top of that I’m layering strength training. The stronger I am, the easier each pedal stroke will be! I’ll discuss these two types of training (Foundations, and strength) in more detail in a later post.
And of course I’m building my cycling fitness.
To avoid too much repetition, I’m mixing my road cycling up between hills and flats, but also with some Mountain Biking too, which has a very different (and more upright and comfortable) set up on the bike. Mountain biking is also great at improving bike handling skills, and explosive power, as you try to climb short, steep, muddy and rocky inclines! And lastly, I’m not forgetting my beloved trail running. I make sure that I get out at least once a week, which is not only a great ‘de-stressor’ for me, but is also great at developing aerobic fitness and leg strength.
So there you have it; a whole range of activities laying a foundation for a very specific outcome.
Over the coming weeks I’ll share with you how the proportions of time spent in each activity starts to be periodised to help me achieve that exciting, and scary, ride at the end of April!