I've found it interesting that over the last few weeks the folks over at Endurance Corner have been writing about maximizing your strengths... I've really enjoyed reading their take on what it means to them and why an athlete might consider approaching training in this way. I know there are some different views on this topic but it hit kinda close to home for me so I thought I'd share my personal views. :)
So I come from a swimming background and feel my strength is swimmer/biker. In the past I've had coaches really try to focus on bringing up my run as that is clearly my weakness... so of course that makes sense logically, no? I've felt the same way... that damn run!!! Argh. Must.run.more. Must.run.faster. Has it worked? Not really. I mean, my run has gotten better of course and I am more durable than I've been in the past but it's not like I'm on my way to cracking 90' in a half marathon or anything. 18 damn years trying to run and still no one who knows running would call me a 'runner'.
In the past when I have felt like I was really focusing on my run, I've cut down on swimming/biking with the thinking that I would then have more time/energy to focus on running. And when I did that, not only did my run not really improve a ton, but my swimming and biking became rather mediocre as well. So now I'm in T2 without the lead I need and those damn runners are just that much closer to catching me. GAH. That did not work.
Interestingly, my current coach is doing what the coaches at Endurance Corner have been writing about... maximizing strengths! And you know what? I am loving it. The benefits I see are as follows:
~Coming from a swimming background I can swim 5x/week- and a lot of it very hard- and it does not take that much energy out of me. I regularly go do a hard bike or run session after I swim super hard and based on the numbers I'm seeing, I would say those sessions are not suffering at all.
~When my swim is going well, I have more overall confidence as an athlete. I feel indestructible. Seriously- that was what I was telling myself at the end of our 5K swim this morning... ripping off some near max effort 200's with paddles on very short rest and all I'm thinking is I'm indestructible. I'm indestructible. That's a great mantra by the way. Totally works. :) Honestly, I think- as a swimmer- the worst thing a coach can do to a swimmer is reduce his/her swim strength. That is a confidence killer and it just doesn't work.
I'd say the same thing about biking- when I'm biking a lot and biking hard (and therefore biking well!) I have a ton more confidence than when I'm not putting in the big training on the bike. And now that I'm fit enough, it does not take a ton out of me which means I still have the energy I need to put into key runs. Which really, how much key running can one safely do?? I can go swim hard 5-6x/week and won't get hurt. If I run hard 5-6x/week I'd be on the sidelines with an injury. That's just the nature of the sport. So I'm watching closely what coach is having me do and I think he's spot on... drill the swim, drill the bike, and run as much and as hard as I can handle without getting hurt. So the run comes along slowly, but it's coming along... and really, no more slowly than it was when I was swimming and biking less! So I could reduce my swimming and biking, but b/c of the nature of running I really could not then run any more or any harder... so reducing my swim/bike would just be a waste of talent and a hit to my confidence level.
So will this approach work? My gut says it will. And that's half of it, right? Believing in your program? Going into your race with the confidence that your strengths are as strong as they can be and your weakness is minimized as much as possible is priceless. So we'll see I guess!?! 5 weeks!