I want to do 70.3 and Standard / Sprint distance races am I able to do this?
I get asked this question a lot from individuals so thought I would put my thoughts down - It’s true we need to employ different engines for different events if you want to be even a little bit competitive. Many of us don’t and that’s ok too, but if you’re like most and dabble with both long and short sporting events then if you train and target the events specifically then enabling the right engine is key to good overall performance.
So how do we change from a sprint race to a 70.3 or an IM race? Well it’s all about enablement of specific engine parts our bodies.
You may have heard the phrase fast and slow twitch fibres? Well a key fundamental is being able to switch them on and off and targeting the use of them to fire at the right time, through periodisation and specificity in training - unfortunately the older we get as an ageing athlete then the longer and harder it is to do this.
So can I mix my year with a mix of distances in the same year?
Yes most definitely but with caveats, what I mean by that is target specifically what you want as your A race and engage the training plan to engage the right muscles at the right time, it’s hard to go fast with the Ferrari engine if you have been plodding along at a diesel tractor pace for months on end.
In my experience it takes about a month to six weeks of specificity to change the engine to start to be effective and it has to be a consistent change, you can only go fast if you train fast, this will "Wake up" and get the right fibres / muscles to fire, you would also need to encompass different strength and conditioning techniques too.. As mentioned I generally see good improvement over a 4/6 week period from slow to fast, which then starts to be effective, from then on dependent on the background and capabilities of the individual usually dictate how far we can progress. The progress curve (ramp rate) is generally fairly steep with short but often sessions.
Even if your doing long endurance events speed training can still enhance your performance - this is done by targeting your VO2 max basically the amount of oxygen your muscles can absorb in a specific period, the higher the VO2 then generally the higher and easier the race % HR that can be utilised, before over fatigue. The speed element has to be complementary to the endurance side of the training.
So you are capable of sprints and IM events just make sure you allow your engine (body) time to adjust if you are going to push the envelope otherwise you run the risk of injury. Periodisation is a key element to any specific training program and it has to be right for you.
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