Not long ago, cyclists would make sure that they "stayed in the small chain ring" for a 1000 miles before trying any strong efforts.
Runners ran high volume weeks of LSD - long, slow, distance before they began track sessions.
While all of those easy, slow miles were good at avoiding early season injury, we know now that they were not necessarily accomplishing the greater goal of building aerobic fitness optimally.
Current research reveals that short, strong efforts can and should be a part of your Base Period. In fact, efforts at all intensity levels may be appropriate throughout your season. The proportion of time that you spend in different training zones must be manipulated according to your training cycle, but don't forgo strong efforts all winter long.
Along with building your aerobic base, this is also the time to work on efficiency and economy - with much work on drills, skills and strength.
This blog would be pages long to cover everything that you should be doing right now, so I'll post at least weekly with Base Building tips. Here are a few for this week:
- Spend roughly 50% of your time in Zone 2 (or a pace that feels focused and steady - i.e. Ironman pace). It is this zone that is most important right now, but it must be Zone 2, not Zone 1, to push your body to adapt. (Zone 1 is good for recovery and drills only, not fitness building.)
- Incorporate some very short, relaxed accelerations. Do 20 second strides after a run. Do some 25 builds in the pool. Do some 20 second sprints on the bike. Stay relaxed and stop at 20 seconds. These are meant to be neuromuscular skill practice sessions - to build efficiency.