Base Training – “Time to slow it down”

Base Training – Time to slow down

In this blog entry we are going to focus on something that a lot of you will already know about and will be reading about in many of the triathlon and fitness magazines right now. I am going to give you my take on BASE TRAINING. I do not profess to be able to bring you anything revolutionary, just my thoughts on why and how we should use this period of the year to provide the groundwork for 2013.

What is Base Training & What are the Benefits?

This time of the year for athletes is a chance to continue training but decrease the intensity after a season of hard racing. It is counter-productive and physically very difficult to continue training all year round at high intensity and expect the body to keep responding in a positive way. The most common responses to a never ending cycle of increasing volume of training are: physical fatigue, mental fatigue, injury, illness and de-motivation. As athletes we must do whatever possible to avoid all of the mentioned symptoms.
Put simply (and exercise and training does not have to be rocket science to be effective) Base Training is a period of training where the intensity of training is decreased, the duration of volume may or may not decrease as well and the athlete uses the time to focus on other areas of what makes them a better athlete. I have used this analogy many times but for those that have not heard it here goes; when building a house the first and arguably most important job is to dig deep into the ground and lay down strong foundations that the house can be built on. This is the most boring job, it is a frustrating job and can feel the least rewarding, but it has to be done if the house is going to be secure. Failure to do this will cause the house to be weak and likely to damage. Think of your body as the house and your ‘A’ race of the season is the day that you move into the house you have built. Each year you build a new house, it just might be bigger or more challenging to get to the point of moving in.

Improve Efficiency – training at a lower intensity allows your body the chance to revisit using the energy sources that make an endurance athlete more efficient, i.e. improving the way in which your body metabolises fat as an energy source. We all have endless amounts of body fat to use as energy and we should train our systems to do this as much as possible.

Improve Technique – this time of year is brilliant for thinking about how we swim, ride and run. It can be tricky to introduce new techniques and work on creating perfect form when you are training at the top end of the intensity scale. So use this time to slow down and think about how your body creates the most efficient movement.

Promote Consistency – when the intensity of your training is at the low-moderate scale you can train with greater frequency as the effects of physical fatigue are far less, this can help promote better consistency to your weekly/monthly training schedule. In turn if you are training regularly the likelihood of physical improvement is greater and therefore the ‘buzz’ that comes from seeing your body changing and getting stronger is likely to happen more often. It’s a cycle of success.

Injury Prevention – this could arguably be the greatest benefit of Base Training. The most common period for athletes to get injured is when they are increasing the intensity and the workload on their body. We only get fitter, faster and stronger by introducing stress to the body, however, too much stress too soon and the risk of injury is far more likely. You can only expect to be able to train at the highest intensities if your body is strong, if the foundations are weak the house will crumble!

IT IS OK to slow down and train with greater focus, IT IS OK to not thrash yourself in every single session, IT IS OK to train at the pace that is correct for YOU and IT IS also OK to not get involved in racing even when your ego is telling you to smash it.
When the time is right you will be ready to introduce more higher intensity training to your schedule and you will then see the benefits of Base Training. It just takes a little faith.

I am going to leave it there, but if any of you have any questions about this please do feel free to ask me.

Dermott (@RGActiveCoach)

To improve the quality of ‘your’ winter training please take a look at the following links to how RG Active can help:

– Winter group cycle cides in SW London and East London/Essex.

– Winter run sessions in Richmond Park

– Track run sessions in Epsom and Woodford Green

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