Weekend Reading: Save Your Season from a Lingering Winter

In some parts of the US – including Colorado – winter just doesn’t seem to want to let go. This week it snowed twice in Colorado Springs, and it’s been cold and nasty in other parts of the country as well. We’re hearing a lot of nervousness from athletes who have big summer events coming up. They feel like the weather is holding them back, and they’re wondering if a late spring will put a damper on their season.

The answer is NO. There’s still time to be optimally prepared for your summer events, but you’re going to have to focus on quality. When the runway in front of you gets shortened, you can’t afford to waste time. I want to help allay your nervousness and help you have a great season, so please read all the way to the bottom, and if you have questions use the email address provided and I will do my best to get you some answers.

Athletes who are struggling with inconsistency this spring due to weather may need to take a step back and reassess where their fitness is right now. Are you really behind where you need to be, or does it just seem that way because it’s April and it’s snowing outside? Schedule a CTS Field Test for the next week (take 1-2 recovery days before it so you know you’re testing in a fresh state) to get an accurate picture of your current fitness and establish training intensity ranges based on current information.

If it turns out that you’re sustainable power output or running/swimming paces are lower/slower than they should be for late April, then you may need to consider adjusting the training you have scheduled over the next two months. If you’re working with a CTS Coach, these are the discussions and adjustments that are always happening. If you’re training on your own and your progress is running behind schedule, then you have to find a way to ramp up your workload so you can achieve training adaptations more quickly.

Playing catch-up by ramping up training workload can be risky. You need to carefully monitor your recovery and training data, and – just as importantly – LISTEN to what your body is telling you. Harder workouts generate more fatigue. When you’re training harder, you’re going to feel more tired. You may even see your training performances decline a bit. Where self-coached athletes get in trouble (especially when they’re trying to play catch-up) is knowing when enough is enough, and when more is too much. Graphs and charts can provide some of that insight, but a good indicator is still your responsiveness to rest. If your workload is appropriate, you should be able to have a strong workout again with one (maybe two) rest days after a hard workout (like a high kilojoule/energy output or high-intensity workout like VO2 intervals or a race). If you’re not bouncing back from workouts, you need more recovery between hard efforts or reduce the workload of your training sessions so you can recover in the time allotted.

This year’s late spring is exactly why the CTS Coaching Philosophy advocates living and training as an athlete year round. The athletes who are not playing catch-up right now are the ones who maintain a high level of fitness all year. They can absorb periods of bad weather, unforeseen training interruptions, and occasional illnesses without being derailed. Throughout my career as an athlete and coach, I’ve never seen a down side to being more fit. That doesn’t mean trying to maintain peak competition fitness year round; it means never letting your fitness drop more than 10-15% below peak competition fitness (power or pace). When you lose 20-30% of your peak fitness after the season, you have a lot of ground to make up. And the more fitness you have to regain, the easier it is for interruptions to send you off track.

This is a crucial time for many athletes out there. If you’re behind, you’re probably not THAT behind yet. In the big picture, we’re still pretty early in the season. But how you act in the next few weeks will have a big impact on your summer. Because there are so many athletes out there with questions, this week I’m encouraging you to email me at chris.carmichael@trainright.com and send your questions about your season, your progress, and where to go from here. I’ll enlist some of the other coaches to help, and we’ll do our best to answer as many as we can for you.

Have a great weekend,
Chris Carmichael
CEO/Head Coach
Carmichael Training Systems

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