Saturday, January 25, 2020

The Naked Triathlete

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Don’t get too excited, we’re talking ‘naked’ as in stripped down, not stripped bare (sorry ladies)!

I’ve written numerous times before around the ‘appliance of science’ to my triathlon training, whether it’s using heart rate zones, hitting specific paces, performing lactate threshold testing or VO2 max tests.  But with a new run coach has come a new instruction: “ditch the Garmin!”.

Why?  Well, it’s what he calls ‘paralysis by analysis’, or in simple terms worrying too much about data at the wrong time in the year.  Given we’re still a ways away from the real triathlon season (which for me starts in earnest in May this year) and that I’m still on the mend from December’s illness, Dave’s opinion is that too much data makes Matt a dull and over-stressed athlete.

I won’t pretend it’s not a little unnerving. It’s ingrained in me to check the Garmin every couple of minutes to see what my heart rate is doing, what pace I’m holding, etc etc.  But Dave’s view is that this is the time of year for me to worry more about how I ‘feel’ running than hitting specific pace or HR targets.  So we’re working on a deceptively simple set of run paces – Very Easy, Easy, Steady and Tempo.  No HR values, no paces, just what it ‘feels’ like.

In reality, from what I’ve experienced so far, Very Easy feels too slow, while Tempo is about as hard as I can run while still maintaining good breathing and running form. Easy and Steady are somewhere in-between.

While it is strange and taking a little while to get used to, it’s also something of a breath of fresh air as I learn to ‘let go’ of worrying about how fast I’m running (there will be plenty of time for that later, I’m sure!) and instead just focusing on making sure I ‘feel’ that I’m running in the right zone.

Anyway, it’s still early days for me, but I have to admit that I’ve probably enjoyed my last few ‘naked’ runs more than other recent runs.  Maybe there’s a space in your pre-season training for ditching the HRM too and learning to feel your way through a run?

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Matt Fisher runs - so it's all his fault! He pretends to be a triathlete, but really he is a husband, father and company VP. But he has raced for the GB Age Group squad a few times and is a two-times qualifier for the IM70.3 world champs