The first (speedwork) session of the season is like getting a flu shot--a little shock to the system that provides help with subsequent exposure. ~ Running Times
In endurance sports the idea is to build a large endurance base (or engine) by increasing your mileage base over a period of time. Then you take that big engine and start to fine tune it by incorporating more race specific efforts, faster workouts and higher heart-rate sessions. If this is done properly you can finish up with a proper tapering phase and arrive at your goal event rested and ready for a great performance or “peak”.
Sharpening: to develop a cutting edge or fine point.
I have transitioned into the first phase of “sharpening”… and it has been… uncomfortable. I spent the winter training for and racing in two 50K trail runs, so I’ve got the base built. Now I have a 10 week sharpening-phase mapped out to get me into the triathlon season. The first week was… painful. Right now I can knock out a 20 mile trail run with no hesitation. But ask me to run a set of 400 meter intervals at 5k pace… yikes... and ouch!
- Incorporating race specific training
- Gradually increasing speed volume over several weeks
- Increasing specificity of pace and terrain as your goal race approaches
- Allow 6 – 10 weeks for adequate adaptation
I made it to my first big group ride of the season this weekend. I can ride all day at a steady pace right now. My lack of tempo work, however, had me hanging on for dear life at each attack or hill. When I tried to keep up with the big accelerations there was no response from the engine room. So I will spend March and April struggling and gasping to keep up. Hopefully it will pay off by May and I will be closer to fighting shape.
My favorite sharpening workouts?
Pace Runs & Tempo Runs
- Pace Runs: at race GOAL pace; Tempo: slightly faster than race GOAL pace
- Learn to run/ bike/ swim efficiently at race pace
- Optimize “lactate threshold” – the ability to race faster for longer periods.
- Learn race pace “feel”
- Very Flexible – distance, duration, terrain, speed, recovery, etc…
- Repeated hard efforts with rest in between: (4 x 800meters with 2:00 recovery between each)
- Short intervals: 200 – 800 meters for aerobic strength
- Long intervals: 800 meters - 2 miles: for running economy, optimized lactate threshold and race pace judgment.
The base building phase instills a sense of security that there is a deep well of endurance to draw from. The sharpening phase will hopefully build a sense of confidence and pace judgment that will help me reach optimum performance once the racing season begins.
Remember, there is not really a beginning or end… just cycles: Basebuilding, Sharpening, Racing, Recovery, repeat….
Read more at: Can't Stop Endurance
for more information on developing a sharpening plan: firstname.lastname@example.org