During the last three months of spring training I’ve focused on building resiliency and durability in body and mind, while maintaining balance in spirit.
I’ll discuss some data first, then dive into spirit.
96% of my workout time has been in zone 1 & zone 2.
4% of the workload was in intensity zones.
* NOTE: This will actually be more like 2% when I eventually increase the total duration of Aerobic Capacity/Basic Endurance work. In other words, total volume does not directly correlate to a definitive percentage of intensity volume. We all know this from daily life: you can’t go from 40 hours/week to 80 and expect to do the same proportion of highly stressful work while remaining sane & healthy over time.
Z1 Active Recovery
Z2 Aerobic Capacity (run) / Basic Endurance (bike)
Z5 VO2 max (run) / Burst Strength (bike)
The goal is to build and maintain a strong and healthy foundation. Combined with a good diet, this structure allows the body to heal any chronic issues, while also removing acute inflammation. Moreover, working in the aerobic zones provides lots of time to concentrate on form and increase connectivity & sensitivity to and within the body. I’m a BIG believer in kinaesthetic acuity and improving biomechanical economy and efficiency.
All work above active recovery causes tissue breakdown in the body. The higher the workload (considering both intensity & time) the more recovery that is required to ensure that building occurs versus cumulative deterioration.
I’m not discounting the importance of the high-intensity work that’s required to push the envelope and train the body & mind for moving at higher speeds. But most people do too much work either at the high end, or worse in the middle between intensity and basic endurance, where you train neither end of the spectrum, nor give time for appropriate healing and adaptation.
As I move into race season I’ll increase my intensity work a few percentage points in relation to total duration. But that still leaves most of the work in Z1 and at the three distinct Z2 levels: low, med, high.
I consider ALL structured work to be taxing on the mind, even though it may be regenerative for the body. Incorporating the following items into my life ensures that I hit every workout with full focus of purpose, commitment, and intent. In short, I get more out of my workouts AND life by taking time to revitalise the mind and body, and stay connected in spirit.
- Daily meditation: This is non-negotiable. I like to rise, drink a large glass of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice, then go sit. Generally, it’s 25 minutes. Of late, it’s been an hour. I prefer to keep things simple by just being still.
… Eckhart Tolle teaches that stillness is alert: Stillness is conscious space on which sense perceptions are painted.
… Chade-Men Tan shares that mindfulness is involved in almost every form of meditation, and is defined as moment-to-moment non-judging attention: A form of attending.
- A weekly ‘sacred rest day’: I may do next to nothing, or I may be active, but there’s nothing triathlon related occurring on this day. It’s all about letting the mind have a full day off from the ongoing triathlon engagement.
- Proper nutrition: A daily practice of improving what, when, & how food enters the body, including eating for the season & weather. I prefer a plant based diet for optimal personal health and global wellbeing.
- Supporting modalities: Chiropractic, massage, and acupuncture help restore and maintain energy, alignment, and function.
- Connection with close friends: Studies of Blue Zone inhabitants have shown that connection with others is important for health. We humans need to feel a sense of belonging, and trust, as well as personal & relational growth. Kinship aids & supports transformation. To be transparent, this is a tough one for me. I tend to be a loner, and it’s easy to isolate myself. But I have learned to reach out, to ask for help, to embrace those near & dear to me, to open up and share, to seek quiet time for myself and in fellowship with others.
- Time in and connection with nature: I’m always refreshed by being present in the outdoors. Years ago, I learned from my dog how to just sit, or lie, and listen & watch. I’m not intentionally focusing attention on mindfulness, but I do open myself to hearing the sounds, smelling the scents, feeling the temperature and air movement, seeing the colours and forms, feeling the energy move.
- Bonding & sharing with animals: It’s easy to share love with animals. Dogs, IMHO, are angels on earth.