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The Olympic year

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Nicola Spirig: Getting back into shape in Gran Canaria.

It isn’t just volume, volume, volume.

As we come into our final week of camp, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how more and more of our age group athletes have not been in a rush to pack every minute of camp into actual training time. The change from over a year ago has been noticeable.

If you are riding 100-150km a week at home in winter, then coming to Gran Canaria to belt out 500km doesn’t make sense. Neither does going from two sessions a week in the pool to seven. Or ripping track workouts that for practical reasons you have no chance of maintaining once you head home.

Often our job as coaches is to make sure early season Winter Camps don’t destroy over eager athletes for the rest of their year. As we try and explain; Success at Trisutto is not about the sessions, but about how and when you do them. For that our best educational tool is watching our champions go to work.

The first reaction early in the week is normally, ‘Wow. How strong. How dedicated.’ Then as week wears on, they see great athletes not just doing great sessions, but sessions that they themselves would complain to me are too easy even for them.

Day one:

AM: Swim (hard)

Midday: 1-hour bike (easy)

PM: 1-hour bike. (hard)

3 sessions.

Day two:

AM Run (21km. 8km hard – other km warm up / build / warm down)

Midday: 1-hour swim (25 hard, 25 easy – using swim gear)

2 sessions.

Day three:

AM: Long hilly ride. Moderate to medium getting to 3hr 30 at max.

1 session

Yes, Nicola’s intensity on the ‘hard’ work is awesome. But the workload is far less than people expect and a modified version of this training can be followed by most age groupers.

But it’s the Olympic year. All her competitors are already working so hard right now.

That’s true. We have to be ready for August 20.

But let me share a secret for our age group followers. Our philosophy is that off a base level of fitness – 16 weeks is the magic number to maximum aerobic fitness.

This is an arbitrary number because some athletes will take a little longer, some talented athletes shorter. However, time and experience have proven it’s accuracy.

Athletes such Nicola Spirig and Daniela Ryf fit in the second category. That is why Daniela is now out on a full break until the end of March before going into pre-training preparation ahead of full training.

This is why Nicola builds slowly into her training. If you have your big race, your ‘Everest’ and it’s in July or August, being at your full powers now is not in your best performance interest.Most age group athletes I know have done too much work far too early for their major goal.

The Olympics are a pretty big deal? Yes. But they are coached as JAR – just another race. Why should I view it as any other? We know anyone overdoing it by flogging themselves with over 180 days out are going to come up short on the big day.

At Trisutto we try and make things transparent for all to see and learn from. Nicola will step up the work and go into full throttle over the second half of May.

So if you are looking to Kona this year as your big race, then you may consider pacing your preparation more intelligently. Daniela will be at camp in St Moritz beginning June, where only then the real build up will begin. In the short term better to work on techniques and training philosophies to help you be faster in the long term view.

It’s not volume, volume, volume. Hard is hard. Easy is short and very easy. Stick to black or white. It’s the grey in between days that kill you. That’s the real secret sauce.

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