Friday, April 12, 2013

Volume vs Intensity

I LOVE intensity. I LOVE volume. Unfortunately, this could be a problem.
            There are a couple different ways to approach an endurance sport like triathlons, especially those of longer distances.  Your training can consist of a high amount of volume with a little intensity, a high amount of intensity with a smaller volume load, or a moderate level of both.  Your individual needs and available training time help to determine what exactly your training plan looks like when it comes to volume and intensity.  If you are considering your first longer-distance race, then you may want to focus more on volume, which will be enough for you to complete the race.  Intensity is great for shorter distances, or if you want to be more aggressive in your longer races.  A healthy mix of both is beneficial.
            As I look ahead to my 2013 race season, I know that I will need volume as I prepare for my first Half-Iron distance race.  I also want to make sure and get quality workouts in that will also prepare me for sprint and Olympic distance races, and hopefully give me an edge with the Half-Iron.  During pregnancy, I had a fairly substantial volume load of training overall, putting in an average of 12 hours of training every week, and this was during the off-season!  As my mentor put it – I was doing the volume load of an Ironman at the time.  I had multiple reasons for this.  I was physically able to do it, and I had the time available, since I was also in between coaching seasons (I coach in the fall and spring).  Fear is what also motivated me.  I needed to prepare for the biggest and longest race of my life yet to date.  And I knew that once I had our baby, I would be out of commission for a while.  I also anticipated that as I got further along in the pregnancy, I wouldn’t be able to do as much.  I took on the mindset of “I’ll do what I can for as long as I can.”  (I’ll get more into this and what I was able to actually do in future posts.)  I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity that I had at the time.
            As I explained in a previous post, my running took a hit the soonest in both volume and intensity.  I was able to ramp up my swimming in both areas, and the bike faired better than I thought it would (both to be addressed in future posts).  Your body will determine what you are able to do, under the guidelines of your doctor.  Remember that even if you can’t bring intensity (which may be likely with pregnancy), you may be able to have volume still.  Each sport is different too, and you might be able to excel in one, while you struggle with another (as was my case).  Be prepared though to not be able to have the same intensity level as you otherwise would, or be prepared to adapt and shorten the time frame of intensity. 
As I said in my Summer Training post, my doctor gave me the guideline that my heart rate should not exceed 140 bpm for more than 20 minutes at a time.  My intensity portions of the bike were limited to 20 minutes in duration at a time, which worked out great.  I was able to bring my heart rate back down between a 2x20’ set.  Another set I did was 5x5’ with 4’ of recovery between, which also allowed my heart rate to come back down.  My intense main set pool workouts also ranged in duration, however, if they were longer in duration, I often had a longer recovery period between intervals.  If I had a short recovery time between intervals, the main set typically didn’t take forever.  You will find out what works for you, what you are able to do, and what your own comfort level in training while pregnant is and be able to make your own training decisions from there.

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