After the Nats my program outlined in the earlier post Annual plan 2013 progressed from longer efforts to short sprints. Plenty of short sprints! At the same time I returned to gym and started experimenting with the explosive sport squat. Everything looked really good, at least for a while. Just in few weeks I raised my short end power by 15%! I was amazed.
I was confident that I would be able to add on top of the condition I had built for the Nationals and the rapidly increasing power gave an extra, yet false assurance I was on the right track. On the 4th week of peaking period I had a race I had added to my program the very last minute. I was dreadfully slow! My legs felt like lead. I had a good jump but not enough top speed.
Return to my training routine, now mainly longer efforts, was equally catastrophic. I realized I was on a declining trend with my short end power. The special endurance was the only bright spot and responded well to the changed training. The race I had in early October captured the whole ongoing ugliness. My endurance in the TT, being the last two laps, were a pleasant surprise. The rest? It all boiled down to a lack of top speed.
So what the hell happened? Why wasn’t I able to build on top of the good condition I already had built for Nats? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and trying to understand what went on during that two month late summer period. I have reached some conclusions that seem to make sense, at least to me.
The lead up to Nationals seemed to produce good results. I was doing a substantial volume of high intensity sprint training until about 4 weeks before the Nats. At that point I started concentrating on even longer, >30s efforts, and the absolute volume of sprint work (sec/week) dropped by 25-30%. This was compensated with the increase in intensity. On the week of the Nationals my 20 second MMP (mean-max power) was at the second highest point for the whole summer.
The explosive work was supposed to improve the top speed even further. Even though I did a lot of reps the absolute sprint volume was only about half of what it had been in spring. The CNS load was surely more than enough as the short sprint work was then topped with explosive sport squats. This combination produced fast and rather significant results. The trend continued good 3-4 weeks. My short end power peaked during the two week period in late August – early September. The solid yellow line in the graph, illustrates where I was on the last week of August. I had the power to accelerate and the plan was to extend the straight part as far to the right as possible, i.e. translate the acceleration to top speed. Sadly that did not happen and it was a steady decline after that. I’m pretty sure my CNS had got enough. The gains I had worked so hard for were mostly lost by the time of my next race.
The shift to longer efforts in early September was a welcomed change. With that my sprint volume grew to the level it had been on in July. As a result the longer end continued a steady raise and peaked the first week of October. This is illustrated with the dashed grey line in the above picture. As you see I did manage to push the line but unfortunately at much lower level altogether. I was a tad faster but not nearly where I wanted to be.
Ok, so what have I learned?
Charlie Francis has said “A slight reduction in competitive stressors brings up the main peak of the critical element and the taper of elements will begin those closest to the speed”. I added a component that directly competed with the sprint efforts. Also, due to the lack of sufficient stimulus I was loosing strength the whole time, especially in the posterior chain. Instead I should have returned to regular squatting and do a three week max strength build period and then move on to maintenance. This way I might have had something to taper off from.
During those late summer two months I did not have enough volume for sufficient stimulus nor for tapering off from. Replacing some of the short sprints with a tad longer efforts would have been easy enough solution. The volume and the drop off seemed to work before the Nats so it probably would have worked at the later date too.
I’m convinced that this method of programming is good for a single peak. It seems clear that the gains you get are hard to keep when moving from one block to another. During the past month and a half I have read through a whole bunch of materials, including the Charlie Francis, FixedGearFever, Up!Up!Up! and others and I can honestly say I now understand the meaning of “training a little bit of everything all the time”…
That will be the guiding theme for the coming season.