Junk miles

We had some very interesting discussions at the two education sessions on Saturday morning. My plan is to run a workshop on ‘Planning Your Own Triathlon Training Program’ in the near future. This will be more of a practical session where you will put together your own six week training block. We will certainly run some transition practise sessions as well with the first one on May 12th when Zone3 will join us at the Lido to allow you to demo their wetsuits. You can practise getting out of the suit as fast as possible. Your goal is to beat Sarah Allen’s record time set last year when she whipped her suit off in under five seconds and got to keep it!

After my talk about ‘Planning Your Own Triathlon Training Program’ someone at the education session asked ‘What are junk miles?’ Some people would say there is no such thing as junk miles and that all sessions are beneficial because they add something to your weekly training volume and the fact you are adding volume is the most important point. I’m not so sure.

As an example, if you have a 10km tempo run planned after work but you have had a really tough day, get home late and decide to just run 5km instead, is that junk miles? It could be if you decide to run the 5km in such a way that you feel there has been no benefit and the way you ran actually makes you wish you hadn’t bothered at all. How might you make the session more beneficial?

Start the session with a structured warm up. An easy jog, some drills and some strides. This will hopefully get you in the right frame of mind for a better session. You might find that after you warm up you actually have more energy to put into the session than you thought. Even if you stop at this point you have worked on technique with the drills and running efficiency with the strides and the session has not been a waste of time. Now run your 5km. May be you’re still tired so decide to take it easy, focus on a technical aspect of your running instead of intensity. May be now you have a bit more energy, so you do a 5km tempo run and finish feeling positive about the effort you put in. May be your running mojo just isn’t there so you treat tonight as a recovery session, have a nice easy run that clears your head and rearrange your session plans for the week so you do your 10km tempo run when you have a little more gas in the tank.

Some take home points then. ‘Easy’ does not necessarily mean ‘junk’. An easy run that helps clear your head, reduces non-training stress allowing a peaceful nights sleep is not junk. Junk miles are sessions performed without any purpose and without any real benefit. Flexibility within any training plan is essential and while your goal should be to complete all the key workouts within your training plan sometimes it just can’t happen. Hopefully the suggestions above will help you modify your own sessions when circumstances force you to and allow you to get more out of your training by training with purpose and remaining consistent with your training.

This week we will have a technique focus in the swim session with some open water skills as well as working on correct hand pathways in the catch and pull phase of the stroke. Videoing the group has shown up some interesting hand pathways from hands sweeping right under the body to hands pulling very wide of the body. We’ll be using pull buoys and fins and you can use paddles for some of the session if you have them.

For those that like mind games, here is an interesting article about ‘The Mental Game (And How to Win It)’ with contributions from Brett Sutton, former coach of Chrissie Wellington. Lastly, for those Javier Gomez fans, a nice little video to watch to get you motivated to train…and buy Oakley sunnies!

All the best to those Slaying the Dragon this Sunday. See you Saturday (and Sunday…lucky me!), Tim (LFTC Coach).