This year I decided to switch things up a bit, and join in on the Endurance Nation out season. I had listened to a number of their podcasts, and their philosophy on training and racing fit well with my thoughts. The basic idea is to get fast first, then add far on top of the fast. This is completely opposite to many other training plans where you start with volume, and then add speed on top of that.
The plan is a simple concept. Low volume (6-8 hrs / week), high intensity bike and run workouts. No swimming. The workouts are really hard, but they produce results.
I started my OutSeason training in November, shortly after my last race of the season. I had high expectations for improvement, and was starting in the best shape I have ever been in.
The OutSeason is a 20 week program, broken down into sections for functional threshold work (FTP) for 8 weeks, then V02 (much harder effort for shorter periods of time) for 6 weeks and back to functional threshold to finish the season. Included in the mix are test weeks after each section so you can monitor your progress.
Throughout the 20weeks, I completed as much of the plan as I could. Sometimes I would have to skip sessions due to travel and other commitments, and on 2 occasions I took 3 days off due to illness. Other than that I stuck to the plan very closely.
Here is a chart I started keeping with weekly training volume. It shows that I averaged under 6hrs per week.
I stuck to the no-swimming part of the plan for November and December, then added some shorter sessions in January. My rationale for adding swimming was I needed to work on my technique and I was not traveling much at the time. This allowed me to add some swimming without compromising any bike/run workouts.
Another thing I started to focus on after following some of the EN forum posts was body composition. My bike power and run speed were coming along nicely, however I realized I would get a boost in power/weight ratio if was was also able to shed a few extra pounds. During January I weighed in at 184lbs – a little over my racing weight from last year. I downloaded the LoseIt app on my phone and started documenting my food intake. I soon realized that I could cut down just a little on rest days, but I was not really eating enough on hard training days It really helped identify my total calorie intake, and the mix of carbs/protien/fats. Over an 8 week period I managed to drop 10lbs! I think this is the lightest I have been since my mid-20’s. I am already under the weight that I was hoping to be by IM Lake Placid. It might be time to set new goals!
The results at the end of the season were:-
Start End Diff Bike FTP 256 283 +27watts 5k Run 20:11 18:50 -1:21 Weight 182 174 -8lb
So that equates to a 10% increase in bike power, and 20% in power/weight ratio. My run times have gotten significantly faster, and more importantly I managed to consistently run well for all 20 weeks. The other interesting thing is that my swim time did not drop by much from last year, and will easily be made up (and hopefully exceeded) when the swim volume begins.
I am very happy with these results and exceeded any expectations I had. I hope to continue to make progress throughout 2012. For me it proved to be the perfect platform to start the 2012 season.