Early Season Training

The Aggies lost back-to-back games on the road this week to unranked opponents. I don't have a (huge) problem with that (except losing to TECH), but the average margin of victory for the other team was circa 20 points.

That is not ok when you are ranked 9/10 in the AP/coaches poll.

Mark Turgeon has been highly praised as a coach and as a person after his arrival in TAMU. This will be his first test as a coach (he' s done well as a person). He did a lot with limited talent while coaching at Wichita State so I hope he can fire up a team that likely didn't expect to lose last week; let alone lose in an extreme fashion.

We play Baylor this week and Baylor is the (new) darling child of the Big 12. The AGs can make a statement with a solid victory this week or they can dig themselves a bit deeper. Its on ESPN on January 23 at 8 EST for interested parties.


Ok, enough on that.

This past week was the first fully structured week of the year for me. I had workouts actually written down in a plan and then I... ...get this... ...did them.

It can be very tempting to try to jump right back in where you left off from last year, but is that really necessary?

Training is placed to take you beyond where you currently are. I would assume that most of you are not where you left off from last season. Your power numbers are low, you feel slow on the run, and swimming just annoys you.

"Wherever you are, be there"

I don't know who originally said that phrase, but I heard it (or read it) from Kevin Purcell some time ago. Whoever said it gave some solid advice. If you are aware of where your fitness stands at the beginning of the season then I think it would be hard to get overly frustrated with your progression.

My HR improved over seven beats at the same power output from one week's session to the next. Don't know about you guys, but that doesn't happen in the peak of my season. Granted, the number are much lower than last year, but it would be foolish to subjectively judge my training based on my peak from last year. All I want is progress and progress was achieved by simply getting the ball rolling again. No fancy overload, just the simply act of doing. Nice to get things so easily for once.


Heart Rate Caps in the Early Season

I have always used a heart rate cap throughout my early season training. I think its useless to pump out high heart rates when you are not moving very quickly to begin with.

Think about it; if you were running 7:00/mile at 150 HR last year and right now you are running 8:30s then what is the point of pushing the heart rate up to simply run 8:00s. Your body can do it, its just not quite ready to do it yet. Give it a few weeks and see how things are going. If you are improving with this protocol then keep it rolling until you are not.

What heart rate cap should you use?

It really depends.

If you have Friel zones then I would suggest the top of zone 2 for the run and the top of zone 3 for the bike. For me, that equates to 20-22 beats below functional threshold for the run and 10-12 below functional threshold for the bike. It should be a number that makes you feel like you are crawling early in the season, but holding it late in the season would you have you crankin'.


Steady State Aerobic Threshold Riding

During the base period of my training Joe has me do long steady state rides on flat terrain. He asks me to hold a heart rate of 150-155 (top end of zone 2) continuously for as long as three hours. This replaces the old model of LSD (long, slow distance) riding in the base period that he used to endorse.

We start by riding 1.5 hours and watching how my power fades as the ride continues. If it fades (decouples) by less that 5% then we will add another thirty minutes of duration and move on.

If you are new to this style of riding then I would begin by simply including a 30-45 minute continuous main set to begin with. Download your power file and check your beginning power versus your finishing power. How far off did you fade? What was your average power for the first half of the set compared to the second? If it is within 5% then add time. If it is not, then repeat the same duration for your next planned session. Achieve your goal before you move on.


Happy January,