Get Course Specific

author : sportfactory
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In order to train specifically for an event you must consider your race course. Although this is logical, athletes will often stick to their usual training routes out of habit and convenience. This may leave their preparation lacking on race day.


A hilly race requires intervals of strength and power, a flat course requires sustained strength endurance, and a rolling course may be a combination of the two. As you approach your goal race it is important to train as you will race. During your base period 'time in zone' aerobic development is the focus and course specificity is not as important. But the athlete that addresses course specifics in their training will have a leg up on the competition.


I advise my athletes to have a 'tool box' of courses. This means a flat course for sustained strength endurance work or tight zone workouts, a rolling course for repeatability, a long hill for sustained repeats, a track for speed work, and an open water swim course. It is important to match the training course to the workout in order to gain maximum benefit from it. We will use these various courses throughout the year depending on the workout, but during the peaking phase we will match the training course to the race course.


I work with athletes that live in many areas of the country. Some have to drive miles to find a small hill and some have to do the same to find a flat section. This requires some adaptability and may mean spending time on a treadmill or trainer in order to be able to 'dial in' training load. Another way we address these limitations is to schedule course specific work on the weekends when travel time is less of an issue. This is usually the case for open water swims, especially ocean swims.


Make sure you do some recon of your race course. Many races now have elevation maps which are very helpful. It is good to get feedback from other athletes as well but beware this can be unreliable. Remember one person's mountain is another person's hill. Riding the course is always a good idea. If you have a GPS meter you can record the grade, elevation change, and length of the course. Get some perspective on what a 7 percent vs. a 10 percent grade feels like, and what gearing you use to climb it on the bike. There are simple devices that mount on the handlebar to estimate grade as well.


If you find your race course has one long climb of 5 miles and 8-12% grade then it is time to start looking for a similar place to train. You can break the course of into segments and train the harder sections individually. In other words you can practice climbing this hill on the trainer with an elevated front wheel for the approximate time and resistance you will need on race day.


The first rule of training is specificity and the last thing you want to be is surprised on race day.

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date: September 23, 2008

Author


sportfactory

Matt Russ has coached and trained elite athletes from around the country and internationally for over ten years. He currently holds expert licenses from USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, and is a licensed USA Track and Field Coach. Matt is head coach and owner of The Sport Factory, and works with athletes of all levels full time. He is a free lance author and his articles are regularly featured in a variety of magazines and websites.

Author

avatarsportfactory

Matt Russ has coached and trained elite athletes from around the country and internationally for over ten years. He currently holds expert licenses from USA Triathlon, USA Cycling, and is a licensed USA Track and Field Coach. Matt is head coach and owner of The Sport Factory, and works with athletes of all levels full time. He is a free lance author and his articles are regularly featured in a variety of magazines and websites.

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