If you worked hard over the winter months, getting to know the trainer/treadmill/pool, it is important to maintain the aerobic fitness you achieved. One workout in each sport should focus on this.
Joe Friel and Brad Kearns both strongly urge this. It is part of periodization, a key element all elite athletes follow for peak performance. Kearns actually even suggests consistent easy pace over-distance training a la Mike Pigg or Mark Allen (for a time) while Friel focuses on prepping for race pace as you get closer to peak performance (the “A” race on the Annual Training Plan).
In short, with training above lactate threshold (like sprints or racing friends every weekend), there is a negative effect of increasing lactate on the bloodstream and, subsequently, the body relies more on carbohydrates to burn energy. Fat is far more efficient, yet the body needs to be trained to use it. A well-developed aerobic system is the key essential. Let this analogy serve for understanding:
Many of you have heard of this analogy as it is canonical in triathlon. I first read it in Kearn’s book, Breakthrough Triathlon. If one spends time carefully developing the body’s aerobic engine it can produce greater results. Two bodies, both pushing to the maximum will depend on the aerobic engine within to beat the other in an endurance race. If the one body is tuned like a Ferrari and the other a Volkswagen, the Ferrari will undoubtedly win. Lesson here: increase time spent on developing aerobic system, increase in revving capacity of body – become the Ferrari!
There are several ways to determine whether you are training aerobically or not.
FYI: the amount of information on this topic on the web and bookshelves is overwhelming and often contradictory. Use the guideline below to gauge whether you are in the aerobic zone:
- Breathing should be easy, inaudible or barely audible (no huffing or puffing)
- Heart rate(HR) is below 80% max HR. *It is almost essential to train with a heart-rate monitor
- Maffetone method- 180 – age = highest HR allowed to stay within the aerobic zone I.E. 180 – age (25) = 155
- Set HR monitor to beep here so you don’t go over it.- This is the method prescribed by Mike Pigg and Mark Allen
Example Aerobic Workout
- Warm Up- 200 Easy Free
- Tech Work- 200 kick – switch every 50yd ( on stomach, left side (25yd), right side (25yd), back, corkscrew rotating smoothly clockwise one way, opposite back)- 50 catch-up- 100 one-arm freestyle (switch every 25)
- Main Set- 10 x 200 @ aerobic pace (based off of 1000yd time trial)
- Warm Down – 50 Backstroke – 50 Free
- Total – 2900 yards- 50 – 60 minutes
Notes: My pace is set by following Friel’s pace chart based on a 1000yd time trial. *Sites like TrainingPeaks.com automatically coordinate your time trial tests with Friel’s zones.