Season Reset: Professional Triathlete Sam Long Considers his Options
by Sam Long
Everyone knows a sense of purpose is essential in life, and I find myself down here in Arizona feeling bereft of that purpose. Races are cancelling, and without races, I don’t have a livelihood. What is one to do? The options that stand out to me are 1) continue to train for upcoming races as if they will happen, 2) shutting things down, trying to enjoy life and imagining it’s the offseason, or 3) doing what I can as an athlete to work on weaknesses while also taking down the training load a bit.
The last option jumps out at me. I have no interest in taking an offseason right now, since I just completed my break and feel I did it well. More importantly I need a sense of purpose every day and there would be very little to do in this time period that could make me happy and engaged. I can’t go skiing and it seems as if I can’t go see Amy, my Canadian girlfriend, since the borders recently closed. So it’s up to me to set some goals for myself.
I think it’s best to train as if races before July simply aren't happening. If July gets cancelled, too, the base I am setting will allow me to be sharp whenever races do appear on the schedule again. All I’ll have to do is to modify the final few weeks to sharpen up, and I think I’ll be as ready as ever. My training objectives are the following: 1) be focused on a positive and productive mindset. Happiness and flexibility of thought are key components here. Fun in the Arizona sun is a great way to keep moving forward, even if I’m doing all of my workouts alone or six feet from my training partners. 2) Physiologically I think there are some very solid goals I can set.
Developing the Lactate Threshold
Mostly this will happen on the bike, performing workouts to become faster and more efficient at threshold, along with pushing the actual power number at threshold higher. For running the goal will be more on neuromuscular speed and coordination. Threshold runs can be very taxing and I think it is best to save those for closer to whatever race I eventually end up doing. This neuromuscular focus will be accomplished with high quality, very structured sessions a few days a week.
Developing my Fat Burning Engine
I’ll achieve this metabolic efficiency by putting in longer days on the bike at a relatively low intensity (Z2 work but also including high Z2 work), including big gear work on the bike. Running-wise the process is about getting in longer runs focused on technique and hills, both short and long.
Decreasing Overall Load and Achieving a Mental Break
I think the above goals are the two best objectives to accomplish while also decreasing the overall load and allowing my brain to have a mental reset. I think focusing on the bike as much as I can is best because riding my bike is the easiest for me. If I can get my cycling up to a great place (a goal of getting my threshold above 400 watts leaps to mind) then when we know we have a concrete race on the schedule I can prioritize my run and swim. Finally, I think my swim will have to take a back seat. With all the pools closed, trying to find a place to swim will simply stress me out.
Mt. Lemmon is a big target and a way for me to stay competitive and honest. Mixing it up with some of the big names out there help me stay motivated to train and keep it fun!