16 Weeks before the 16 Weeks - By Jason Hayden
Training for a major event is a tough assignment. These are
events that you cannot simply have another go at next weekend. If you drop the
ball, miss a tackle or eat something that wrecks your day you can’t simply
practice during the week and do better the following Saturday. Major events
like the marathon and the long-course triathlon require a huge commitment in
time and effort over a long period of time. Then, come race day you have just
the one shot. The one shot to bring all your training and experimenting down
and into your effort in that one race.
Because of this one-shot phenomenon many friends and fellow club
members I know will buy a program or pay for a coach for the build up to such
an event. Both options are perfectly understandable and indeed can be very
Most of these programs are usually 16 weeks, some are 12
weeks and a few are 20 weeks leading up to the race day. During this time you
will get fitter and you will benefit from the structured program.
However (and this is a big however) I would argue that the
best time to pay for your coach or buy your program is when you can make the
biggest impact or improvement to your race day performance. And that is…
…16 weeks before your 16 weeks build phase begins.
Let’s face it, in the final 16 (or 12, or 20) weeks you are
that flat out trying to fit in your training with your family, work and social
world …or you are asleep on the couch. During this final period most of us just
don’t have the time or energy to make those big breakthrough changes.
So, in the 16 weeks before the 16 weeks you have the time to
re-read your last post-race self-assessment (what do you mean you didn’t write
one?) or maybe just think back to your performance and look closely at your
results, maybe even, dare-I-say-it compare to your peers. Use this time to
critique your race and come up with a shortlist of weaknesses, flaws or errors.
Inevitably, there will be technical efficiency gains to be
made as well as changes to your training schedule. Below is a list of possible
Injuries: if you suffered any injuries last
season, especially imbalance or overuse injuries (yes – just about all
injuries) now is the time to strengthen, balance, stabilise and mobilise. Get
into the gym get some quality coaching and get your body robust and resilient.
The stronger the platform the more you will be able to load it up in the final
Swim stroke: just about everyone can get more
efficient in the water. Notice I said efficient and not faster. Now is the time
to get video analysis and really focus on the little things that will improve
your swim. For example learning how to tumble-turn. Sure there are no tumble
turns in a triathlon swim, but if you want to get an extra 10% out of every
swim session you do then spend a few weeks learning or perfecting your tumble
turn. Of course working on a better catch, pull and recovery will also be
helpful. These will of course require you to slow down (less volume) something
you are not wanting to do in that final 16 weeks.
Tinker with your bike: means changing your
pedalling motion. It’s important to give your body time to adapt to these
changes. Meaning you can’t make these changes in the final 16 weeks.
Build a more efficient pedal stroke: by
increasing your cadence on the long rides and spending time each week working
on your single leg drill. Again these are training drills rarely used by
athletes trying to log meg-miles on the bike.
Strengthen run form: if you look at the back end
of a marathon or Ironman you will notice that those holding their goal pace are
those that have maintained their form and posture. The primary driver behind
this is logging long slow volume combines with postural strength and
conditioning. You can make big improvements in the 16 weeks before the 16
Run speed: is very difficult to cultivate when
you are building towards an endurance event (any event over an hour). So the
time to build speed and speed endurance is in the 16 weeks before the 16 weeks.
Of course you will have a different and longer list of jobs
to do in your 16 weeks before your 16 weeks, but the point is the same. A major
race event such as your goal half-marathon, marathon or long-course triathlon
should be built around a 32 week plan. While many of us have difficulty
committing to the Brats Annual Party this Saturday night, if you truly want to
improve or PB your next goal race you should take an honest look at your last
results, make a shortlist of things to improve and plan ahead 32 weeks.
Whilst on the topic of planning there is a solid Brat group
building interest in Ironman or 70.3 in Busselton come December 2017. Touch
base with Karl or Jason if you are interested.
Mortgage Broker to the stars and owner of Seac Studio
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