News Letter February 2012

Brrrrrrrrr, it's cold, hey!

It's usually about this time of the year when I remind everyone about the importance of taking care of yourself and listening to your body whilst training during the cold months of the year.

If you were organised enough to put together a proper training plan for 2012, you should currently be part way into the Base-Phase, in layman's speak, this is the bit that's mostly low-intensity and focuses on developing Duration & Distance for each discipline. Training with a Heart Rate Monitor is a good way to ensure you are working in the right zone.

In terms of the distances you should be covering, these will be determined by the races/events that you've entered/planned for 2012. Think in terms of a final Training Distance that should be a little over the Race Distance of your planned Cat-A event, I normally work on Race Distance plus 10%. Aim for a gradual progression, around 10% each increase, that builds up to the full Training Distance. A word of warning, not every session should show an increase but allow your body to become comfortable with each distance before pushing further. Also include plenty of sessions that are shorter as this helps with overall conditioning.

It's simple - lots of plodding/cruising to establish a good foundation before starting to think about speed work.

In theory the Base-phase should present a relatively low-risk for injury, however, like most things, it's never that simple.

The effects of regular and progressive training are very much accumalative and unless managed carefully can easily lead to excessive soft-tissue damage and muscular dysfunction. Granted, there needs to be some degree of muscle-fibre damage in order to stimulate adaptation, but we do need to give the body the opportunity to recover. Added to this are the perils of training during the cold weather.

Specifically, the soft tissues of the body (muscles/tendons/joints/ligaments, etc) take much more of a hammering if they are forced to work when cold. Do not underestimate how important it is to do a proper warm-up this time of the year. Muscle & tendons are much stiffer when cold and hence more prone to damage.... why do you think most pro-athletes train abroad during our winter months?

Progressive dynamic exercise relevant to your main activity and that focus on main muscle groups & joints is the best approach to warming-up, however here are some simple ways to help:

  • Plan when you intend to exercise/train as last minute sessions tend to not leave enough time for a proper warm-up.

  • Wear the right clothing! Slip an extra tracksuit over your leggings.

  • Massage your calf muscles or use a hot-water bottle or embrocation to stimulate blood flow.
  • Jump on your turbo-trainer for ten minutes before heading outside.

and finally.....

  • listen to your body!

If you become injured the best thing to do is cut-back on your training and seek some advice. If you continue training hard, not only will the problem get bigger but it will also alter your movement patterns causing mid to long-term issues.

Short-term niggles will turn into long-term problems and this is especially the case for the lower-leg. Do not ignore them!

I hope these tips are helpful. If you would like any help or have any queries please get in contact.

Happy training!


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