To date I’ve simply been training to finish a sprint triathlon. When I say this I basically mean a relatively unfocused approach to training whereby I train to ensure I can cover each of the distances on race day by going a bit further to take into account fatigue from the other disciplines. e.g. the bike leg takes about 40 minutes so train for about 1 hour. I’ve found this is okay since I’m just getting started and since I’ve achieved my goal of finishing a bunch of sprint triathlons without coming in last, however, by training this way you hit a ceiling pretty quickly.
As a rower, we were often told about the way in which the dominant East German rowing team used to train for the 2km olympic rowing distance. They would row the 2km race over and over which at the time was effective, though probably due to the quality of training programs throughout the rest of the rowing world which was fairly amateurish by today’s standards. It was also incredibly draining on East German rowers as they were effectively rowing at race pace each training session.
In trying to compete the the East Germans the British changed tactics and adopted a different, more nuanced approach to training wherein they isolated particular qualities or areas that make up a good rower. Training sessions were split into those for endurance and those for power. This approach meant either low intensity long sessions for endurance or high intensity short sessions for power. Together this resulted in athletes with more power and a greater endurance base.
With this in mind, I recently changed my training schedule to include longer endurance sessions where I actively slow my speed and heart rate and shorter high intensity sessions. I’m taking part in the HSBC sprint triathlon in September, which though pretty soon, will hopefully help show whether this approach is any more effective. Fingers crossed! My initial observation is that, for me, the guilt factor is quite a big problem. I always feel like I should either be running faster on endurance sessions, or training for longer on power sessions. Anyway, I’ve committed to training smarter so it should be interesting to see what happens.