Committing to a plan
I recently posted about my training plan for January. I am now two weeks in to that plan and wanted to share some of my thoughts on training, why and how I came up with this plan.
I’ve set my 2018 goals – to run more and faster – and challenges – to test my endurance – and they are all in one way or another, for me, big challenges.
I worked hard last year training for my 13 challenges in aid of Make-A-Wish, but if I’m honest I wasn’t particularly structured in the way I did it, and this year I want to change that. Why? Because I feel I have the potential to do more – to run and cycle faster and for longer – and I see the only way to get faster is to be smarter in the way I train. So I set out researching what I needed to be doing, so I could create and then publically commit to a plan. The need to publish is due to my personality – I’m quite free in how I approach life and I tend to do things off the cuff, which makes sticking to a plan a bit tricky. So holding myself more to account is a good thing, providing I don’t stop listening to my body.
Where do you start with a plan?
I’ve been researching training plans and reading various athletes own blogs and posts about their habits and programmes. I wanted to find something that worked for me and how I like to train, but really struggled. So I got hold of a training plan for a Duathlon and went from there.
So, what’s in the plan?
- Rest days are absolutely necessary, so 2-3 days of rest (not running or cycling) will be a feature every week. So as a starting point I have built in 2 days every week, but I am prepared to increase this to 3 depending on how my body feels as the month goes along,
- Linked to the above, it’s not about training as much as you can but about the structure, the focus and quality of the training you do,
- I’m conscious my body, particularly my Achilles and knees are still recovering from my John O’Groats to Land’s End cycling challenge so I’m keeping the run mileage low for January so I can assess where I am and not overload.,
- Most training plans I found had between 4 and 5 days of activity, be it runs or rides, so my starting point was at least 2 running and 2 cycling sessions – however by adding a Brick Session once a week I can bump both up to 3,
- I’ve based my runs on mileage not time, this is purely a personal thing. I know some favour time, so that easy runs are less about getting in a certain distance however I prefer the idea of running to a mileage. Similarly, I’ve got my previous PB’s and the goal times for future races, so I know what pace I need to be running at so I feel more comfortable practicing those over the right distances,
- Due to real life, I can only really do 1 or 2 long rides per week so I am using TrainerRoad, a power based indoor cycling training app, to help maximise the time I do have for training. The workouts revolve around your FTP and aim to increase the amount of power you put out, the bonus being the most workouts are 1 – 1.5hrs, meaning I can fit them in before work,
- To run faster and to help prevent injury I’ve included both strength training and interval sessions in to my programme – something I wasn’t really doing as part of my running plans last year,
- As I’ve come to learn, strength training should supplement any runners work, as it strengthens muscles and joints, which can improve race times and decrease injury risk. Both runners and cyclists should be focusing on core, lower back and legs. So I’ll be doing a mix of HIIT sessions and some basic home exercises, such as glute bridges, planks and lunges,
- As for Intervals, these are I’m seeing the key to becoming faster as they ensure you are running at a slightly faster pace than your goal. So I’m going to start with hill sprints as a way to kick off my introduction to intervals, as they focus on both the power and efficiency of the stride,
- My plan is based on getting the training done first thing in the morning – I’m an early riser and I much prefer the idea of getting out and getting it done, as leaving it to the evening creates an opportunity for excuses to creep in to my mind.
I should say at this point I am in no way qualified to give advice – this is a plan I’ve built for myself to help me achieve my own goals and based on research I’ve done. So please do go and seek your own advice.
The 2018 challenges
Why such a full on plan? Well I need to build up my endurance and therefore aerobic capacity – making my body more efficient at using oxygen to power it – and my overall strength.
For example I am planning to cycle between 5 European cities, covering 1000 miles in a week. This will mean a dramatic increase in the miles per day cycled – on my JOGLE challenge I averaged 105 miles per day, but I want to increase this to around 150 – 160 miles per day. I’ve put in a couple of ‘warm up’ challenges, to test my training and progress before attempting this one in the late summer of 2018.
Find out more about this year Challenges and my race diary
Fuelled by Active Root
Just a final note on food, nutrition and hydration – what I put in my body is as important as the volume and quality of the training I do.
Water regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints. It helps transport nutrients to give you energy and keep you healthy. If you’re not properly hydrated, your body can’t perform at its best, meaning you’ll suffer from fatigue, have muscle cramps, dizziness, or other more serious symptoms. So it’s important not to miss a trick here and get properly hydrated, both during and after training.
Sports drinks were first created to help top level athletes improve their performance, as so often is the way these products filter down and are picked up by the ‘average joe’ runners, cyclists and gym goers. So much so, the UK sports drinks market has a turnover in excess of £200 million (Source: Nature) – so there’s no wonder why it’s hard to know what the heck to drink and when.
As part of my John O’Groats to Land’s End challenge I used Active Root alongside water to rehydrate me during and after each day’s ride. I suffer from IBS and I’ve found Active Root to be the only sports drink to work for me – rather than having that sickly feeling from gels and drinks, the natural ginger the product actually keeps the stomach calm and helps to reduce the nausea caused through exertion.
If, for some reason, you haven’t tried Active Root yet – they are offering a cracking deal on their new Taster Sachets – https://www.activeroot.co.uk/product-page/new-sachet-taster