One of the most critical phases of training is the speed endurance phase. This phase allows the athlete to bring all of the preceding phases together. The more attention and focus you have put into the strength, strength endurance, and speed phases of your training, then more growth potential you’ll have when you enter the speed endurance phase.
The purpose of the speed endurance phase is to teach your body to deal with elevated level of lactate. This can also be referred to as the lactate tolerance phase. The key factor during this phase is that intensity is right at or just above lactate threshold and recovery is limited. Intervals can vary in length from 5 minutes up to about 20 minutes for the bike and 3 to 15 minutes on the run. The goal is to teach your body to sustain lactate threshold intensity on limited rest. Carrying fatigue into each repeat is very important. The rest intervals are designed to give a brief respite from the work being done and then it’s back to the grind.
Sample Bike Speed Endurance Workout
20 minute warm up gradually building up to z4 with short bursts into Z5 to prime the legs for what’s in store.
3 x 12 minutes @ Z4 with 2 minute Z2 recovery spin at a high rpm
10 minute cool down.
As you progress through this phase the main set of the workout would evolve into something like this.
3 x 20 minutes @Z4 with 2 minute recoveries
These intervals are tough and the last one will usually feel much more intense despite the same Z4 intensity. These intervals are crucial for race day performance.
Race Specifics and Putting it all Together (for long course athletes)
During all of the phases I previously described, the volume is not high (will vary by person of course). If executed properly, the final phase of the training cycle will allow you to add on volume at a time when your body is best prepared to deal with the increase. Instead of building volume when the body is weak and just getting back into the routine, you’ll be doing it when the body is best prepared to handle the volume. The length of the race specific phase will depend on the history of the athlete, but most experienced Ironman athletes do well with 4-7 weeks of high volume. Less experienced might need more (mostly for the athlete’s mental sanity). Intensity comes down to a much more race specific nature. Speed endurance and short bursts of speed are thrown in to keep the athlete feeling fresh.
Tomorrow I’ll be announcing our Off Season Bike Program. This program will help dedicated triathletes enter the 2015 season with more power….AND yes I’ll guarantee you’ll improve bike power at the end of the 5 week program.