Training Intensity Blindness
If you ask any coach/ athlete to name the most common mistake that they make in their training, he or she will probably say, “Paddling too hard on easier Intervals” and not getting through the full session holding consistent Intensities.
But we all do it, some more then others.
Science backs up these observations through countless research tests.
So in short, most of the Interval training/paddling sessions that we think we are doing at low/moderate intensity are in fact done at high intensity. I refer to this phenomenon as “intensity blindness.”
Spending nearly half of one’s total training time at high intensity wouldn’t be a problem if this were an effective way to train, but it’s not! Research has shown that elite endurance athletes in all disciplines, from running to rowing, do 80 per cent of their training at low/moderate intensity and the remaining 20 per cent at high intensities. Exercise scientists believe that this universal pattern is the result of generations of trial and error conducted at the highest levels of the various endurance sports. Virtually every way of balancing training intensities has been tried, but only the 80/20 balances have survived, because it works best.
But what about non elite paddlers? Studies have also demonstrated that paddlers and other endurance athletes of all experience and ability levels improve most when they follow the “80/20 Rule” of intensity balance.
Breaking out of the 50% low/moderate to 50% high Intensity Training and taking advantage of 80/20 training can take some time and lower your training ego.
Finding Your Intensity Zones.
In order to spend 80 per cent of your training time at low / moderate intensity and 20 per cent at high intensities, you need to know what low, moderate, and high intensities are for you.
By using our five-zone system in which Zones 1 and 2 correspond to low intensity, Zone 3 is moderate intensity, and Zones 4 and 5 are high intensity.
Plan 80/20 Training Weeks
This second step is a simple math game. For example, if you train 5 hours per week paddling that’s 300 minutes. Eighty per cent of 300 is 240, or 4 hours of Low/moderate training .So this is how a 5 hour training week with 1 hour of high-intensity training would be.
TZ 1 & 2 Low Intensity, TZ 3 Moderate Intensity, TZ 4 & 5 High Intensity
Monitor and Control Intensity Workouts
It’s one thing to plan the perfect 80/20 week, another to actually do it. If you’re like many athletes you may intend to do most of your training at the prescribe intensity from your Training program but when you get out on the water, you do something else—without even realizing it. Fixing this problem requires that you actively monitor your intensity throughout every interval/ session and stay in the targeted Training zones.
Being disciplined in this way can be surprisingly difficult at first. But if you take a leap of faith and follow through with your plan to slow down, your intensity discipline will be well rewarded. The first thing you may notice is that you’re less fatigued from day to day. You’ll also find that you are able to train faster and more comfortably and consistently in higher-intensity workouts. Many athletes can get caught up with Heart Rate Monitors and find their training Intensities become erratic and time consuming and their time on the water isn’t enjoyable as it should be.
A preferred method of monitoring Training Intensity is adopting the RPE scale (Rate of Perceived Exertion)
Rates Of Perceived Exertion
TZ1 (RPE 1-2) Very relaxed. Able to carry on a conversation
Purpose -Regeneration and recovery and establish base endurance
Increase blood flow to muscles to flush out waste products and provide nutrients. Improves fat metabolism, gets muscles/tendons/ligaments/nerves used to cycling. Increases economy
TZ2 (RPE 3-4) Working. Feel warmer. Heart rate and respiration up. May sweat.
Purpose – Improve efficiency
Improves the ability to use oxygen, produce power and increases efficiency
TZ3 (RPE 5) Hard work. Heart rate and respiration up. Carbon dioxide build-up. Sweating. Breathing hard
Purpose – Improve sustainable aerobic power
Improves carbohydrate metabolism, changes some fast twitch muscle to slow-twitch
TZ4 – (RPE 6) Stressed. Panting. Sweating freely -7 Very stressed. Gasping. Sweating heavily.
Purpose – Push threshold up, sustain a percentage of maximal aerobic power
Develops cardiovascular system and VO2max, improves anaerobic energy production and speeds turnover of waste products
TZ5 – (RPE 8-10) heavily stressed. Gasping. Sweating heavily.
Purpose – Increase sprint power output
Increases maximum muscle power, develops neural control of paddling at specific stroke rate