Well, I did my annual 5 x 1 mile track workout last night. This post is meant to show just how aerobic our sport really is. Some facts:
1) I do 3-5 track workouts each year (so called “speed” workouts). All other work is done at least 30 seconds per mile under my one hour run race pace.
2) This is the 4th year in a row I have done the 5 x 1 mile workout.
3) I take exactly 3 minute rests between each repeat.
Below is a figure I put together which shows each of the last 4 years and the repeat times I had for each mile. What it shows is a significant improvement each of the past three years despite doing 98 percent of my training extremely aerobically.
It begs the question: Why do more than 5+, risky “speed” workouts each year while training for an IM…these have the potential to get you injured and sidelined? No reason! As shown below, at all running race distances over 1 mile, more than 50 percent of ATP comes from aerobic energy production.
Since the major limiter in IM (and half IM for many) is muscular durability and aerobic efficiency, it always baffles me to hear folks pounding out track workouts which do very little for the their intended training response, and taking huge risks of injury or burnout which can undermine the very limiter that they have……durability and aerobic efficiency (which comes through CONSISTENT aerobic volume)! If you are on the couch with an injury, you are going backwards, burning up about 3 weeks of fitness for each 1 week spent on the couch. This intuitively tells you that your training program should have the primary focus of keeping you out of that position.
What we do at QT2 to avoid this is, focused strength work in the early season, year-round hip and core strengthening, lots of focused aerobic work, and a FEW very focused track workouts throughout the season at specific/critical times. Anything that even has the slightest chance of putting you on the couch is avoided like the plague. Like most things in life……progress in triathlon takes significant sacrifices and significant patience. For many, not doing “fun” speed work is a sacrifice.
Although track work may not directly target the energy system that primarily fires us forward on race day, there are other benefits not necessarily related to sport physiology like potential improved biomechanics (and is one of the reasons we include it in the training program). That’s the trouble with sports training…so, so, many things interconnected.
For those geeks out there (or those who have too much time on their hands), here are links to my 5 x 1 mile garmin files for the last two tries at it:
2008: HERE (HR data currupt)