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View Full Version : Training program - advice/comments requested


Emma Wheeler
03-23-2009, 07:22 AM
Hi,

I'm looking for some advice about putting together a training program - I've been reading a lot, both on the CrossFit boards and here (have been subscribing to PM for a couple of years), and although (or perhaps because) there's a great deal of excellent information, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed!

A bit of background - I'm 37, female, 134 pounds. I am an aspiring Modern Pentathlete (pistol shooting, swimming, running, horse riding (jumping), and epee fencing). My swim distance is 100m or 200m, and run is 1000m or 3000m (the distances depend on event and whether there is a masters age group or not).

I've been CrossFitting on and off (due to injury) for a few years and enjoy it a lot, but I'm starting to think it's not the best fit for me.
I work as a computer programmer and have chronic neck/upper back problems. I'm treated by a good chiropractor, and do trigger point/foam roller work which has helped, plus working on my weak areas after reading articles by Eric Cressey. I've also just bought the Z-Health R-phase DVD/book and I think this will also make a difference. Most of the time my neck is fine, but certain things (pull-ups, dips, overhead presses - specifically max effort) will make it 'go'.

Currently I run 3-4 times a week, all 'quality' sessions, most less than 40 minutes and usually intervals of various lengths (1 to 10 minutes). One of those is a track session with 200m, 400m and 800m repetitions. One session may be a longer run (up to 10km), nice easy pace just running around the forest with my dog.

Swim - 3 times per week including one coached technique session, generally working on intervals rather than distance.

Shoot - once per week plus 'dry-firing' practise at home.

Fence - just starting fencing again after a knee injury (not-too-serious medial ligament tear). One club session of 1.5-2 hours bouting, and one coached session.

Phew! Sorry about the length of post, but I thought a decent background might help...

Most of this training is in the evenings, leaving me 5 mornings a week to do additional stuff. My plan is to do:

2-3 strength sessions (2 of back squat, front squat, deadlift, bench press, press), 3 x 5 or 1 x 5 for deadlifts.

2 OLY lifting sessions working on snatch and C&J progressions. I'm trying to track down someone locally who can give me some OLY coaching.

Gymnastic skills work - handstand, front lever, planche, L-sit progressions.

My main questions are about metcons:
1) Do I need to do metcons in addition to my running training? If so, should they be heavy/short? Should I adapt the CF WOD, or use this site's metcons? I'm not sure I'm knowledgable enough to make them up myself. IShould I do additional running in the metcons as I'm already doing quite a bit of 400m/800m repeats?

2) I'm weak on pull-ups, should I do pull-up based metcons or just add pull-ups to my workout generally?

3) I plan to have an easy week every 4th week, backing off the strength work and reducing intensity.

Again, apologies for such a long first post, and I would be very grateful for any comments or advice you can offer. Oh, and if I sound wierd it's because I'm English, sorry...:)

Many thanks,
Emma

Garrett Smith
03-23-2009, 07:35 AM
Sounds like a huge amount of training volume to me. Please type out a typical training week day-by-day.

Steven Low
03-23-2009, 08:28 AM
I've been CrossFitting on and off (due to injury) for a few years and enjoy it a lot, but I'm starting to think it's not the best fit for me.
I work as a computer programmer and have chronic neck/upper back problems. I'm treated by a good chiropractor, and do trigger point/foam roller work which has helped, plus working on my weak areas after reading articles by Eric Cressey. I've also just bought the Z-Health R-phase DVD/book and I think this will also make a difference. Most of the time my neck is fine, but certain things (pull-ups, dips, overhead presses - specifically max effort) will make it 'go'.

This is probably a posture issue and needs to be addressed.

Hopefully it hasn't gone on long enough to the point where it's permanent.

Currently I run 3-4 times a week, all 'quality' sessions, most less than 40 minutes and usually intervals of various lengths (1 to 10 minutes). One of those is a track session with 200m, 400m and 800m repetitions. One session may be a longer run (up to 10km), nice easy pace just running around the forest with my dog.

Swim - 3 times per week including one coached technique session, generally working on intervals rather than distance.

Shoot - once per week plus 'dry-firing' practise at home.

Fence - just starting fencing again after a knee injury (not-too-serious medial ligament tear). One club session of 1.5-2 hours bouting, and one coached session.

Phew! Sorry about the length of post, but I thought a decent background might help...

This is enough work that could burn someone out to be honest. And reading ahead you want to do more?

Most of this training is in the evenings, leaving me 5 mornings a week to do additional stuff. My plan is to do:

2-3 strength sessions (2 of back squat, front squat, deadlift, bench press, press), 3 x 5 or 1 x 5 for deadlifts.

2 OLY lifting sessions working on snatch and C&J progressions. I'm trying to track down someone locally who can give me some OLY coaching.

Gymnastic skills work - handstand, front lever, planche, L-sit progressions.

My main questions are about metcons:
1) Do I need to do metcons in addition to my running training? If so, should they be heavy/short? Should I adapt the CF WOD, or use this site's metcons? I'm not sure I'm knowledgable enough to make them up myself. IShould I do additional running in the metcons as I'm already doing quite a bit of 400m/800m repeats?

2) I'm weak on pull-ups, should I do pull-up based metcons or just add pull-ups to my workout generally?

3) I plan to have an easy week every 4th week, backing off the strength work and reducing intensity.

Again, apologies for such a long first post, and I would be very grateful for any comments or advice you can offer. Oh, and if I sound wierd it's because I'm English, sorry...:)

Many thanks,
Emma

Well, the first thing I don't understand is if your goal is to compete still why are you going to do ADDITIONAL strength + Oly + gymnastics work? That will take you farther away from your goal of doing well, and it's WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much.

1. Metabolically you want your intervals or whatever to be more specific to what you are doing. So pure running or swimming or running + whatever else intervals are fine.

2. Pullups don't seem to be needed for your sport... but you can add some work into your warmup or during skill time. I'd say GTG but you already have too much on your plate.

3. This is smart give then volume you have.


You might want to talk to a pent coach or a decathlete coach to see how they balance all of their training. It HAS to be more skill work than you are doing now. Full on interval work + other stuff is just going to waste you because it's too much for someone to recover from not to mention wanting to do MORE stuff. You have to prioritize.

Emma Wheeler
03-23-2009, 08:55 AM
Hi Garrett,

Mon am - Gym (has been CF WOD)
Mon pm - swim (technique)

Tue am - Tempo run (< 40min), followed by WOD
Tue pm - shooting

Wed am - WOD
Wed pm - Swim (around 40 mins), followed by club night fencing

Thu am - Track session (running)

Fri am - WOD
Fri pm - Swim

Sat: Short interval-based run every 2nd week. Strength-based WOD.

Sun: Maybe an easy run depending on how I feel.
Sun evening: 30 minute fencing lesson.

My general plan was to replace 5 WODs with 2 strength and 2 OLY-based sessions, plus some gymnastic skill work. My feeling was that this was quite a lot without adding metcons too, but wasn't sure if people would suggest short, heavy metcons too.

Most of my running and swimming is short, interval-based sessions, I do very little mileage compared to most runners I know, easily less than 15 miles/week. If I feel tired, I take a day off, or 2 if needed but that's rare. I generally feel energized and try to get plenty of sleep. I'm rarely ill, and the only issue I have is dealing with my work-related neck problems.

hope this is helpful,
Emma

Emma Wheeler
03-23-2009, 09:12 AM
Hi guys,
Thanks for the comments. My training load is pretty non-existent by the elite-level athletes' standards. This is an extract from the Australian Modern Pentathlon Association website:

'A typical training day might involve 6-8 hours of exercise in three or more disciplines. For example, a dawn two hour swim session to start the day followed by riding training, 10 kilometres or more running and perhaps fencing or shooting for up to two hours or more hours to close out the day. At peak training times this schedule may be a seven days a week routine.'

As for including Oly and slow lifts, both track runners and swimmers use strength and power conditioning. The distances I am competing at are short, and I've found that the strength training I've done so far (CrossFit) has helped greatly in increasing speed and helping me maintain form when I'm getting tired.

Shooting is all about stability, particularly in the back and shoulders. Fencing is all about explosive movements (lunging generally), plus strength in holding a demanding position. Skill work is mainly footwork and bladework, some of which I can do alone, plus I have 1-2 lessons per week depending on coaching availability.

Thanks again, I am appreciative of your comments so far.
Emma

Garrett Smith
03-23-2009, 09:52 AM
When you say "strength training (CrossFit)" has helped your speed and fatigue resistance, do you mean metcon or just doing more strength work? CF WODs are not the best way to build strength, if that's what you are after, and they tend to really suck energy that could be better used in sport-specific work (which your sport needs a lot of).

If you do metcons, they should be sport-related (at least half of the movements should be from your sports) and power-biased. I can't see how someone training for your event could ever be short of GPP, only strength (which would seem to be apparent based on your observations that improved strength benefited your performance).

If you aren't elite yet, then don't hold yourself to elite training loads/volumes. The people on that schedule you posted obviously don't have real jobs. You're already at a seven-day per week routine.

Emma Wheeler
03-23-2009, 02:09 PM
My general feeling is that it was the strength work which has helped, which is why I was aiming to include both slow lifts and progressions towards the Olympic lifts in my non-sport specific training. My aim is not to become crazy strong but to build a good level of strength to support my training. Oly lifting would seem to be more sport-specific for me, so I'd aim to increase that at the expense of the slow lifts as I get stronger and my technique improves.

No metcons seems sensible, thanks. I'll start with 3 strength sessions per week and monitor my progress, if that seems too much then I'll back off.

Thanks for your patience, there is very little information for the non-pro athlete in my sport, and I'm really feeling my way. My reward for selecting a bizarre sport to partake in!

As for burnout, normally I monitor my heart rate in the morning, as well as going on how I feel - if I'm lacking in energy/sluggish then I take a rest day. Are there any other signs I should be looking out for?

Thanks for your time, I really do appreciate your replies.

Garrett Smith
03-23-2009, 03:06 PM
Pre-leaving-your-bed HR seems to be a decent way to monitor your status, as does feeling sluggish and/or not having a desire to work out for several days in a row. Losing speed/snappiness in quick lifts is supposedly another early warning sign.

I do know of some other folks who are using vertical jump measurements and grip-strength meters to assess the CNS recovery between sessions. That's out of my area at this point.

Steven Low
03-23-2009, 05:56 PM
How far are you out from competitions?

Brandon Oto
03-23-2009, 07:09 PM
If your general strength and power are okay, the way I would personally program this is to treat it like combined running and swimming training (kind of a partial triathlon), with the elements of those particular sports, just adjusted to allow each other's volume.

Fencing and shooting are almost wholly practice. IMO unless your general strength and such is still novice, I would not worry about doing anything specific for them except training the activity. I don't know about riding, but would be surprised if it's very different.

Running and swimming are the athletic components. Train like a runner and swimmer. Then add the event practice around it, since it shouldn't be significantly detrimental to your recovery to dry shoot a bunch. The coin there is time, not work capacity, and I have no idea what your schedule is like but it's not really a training question.

Just my thoughts.

Emma Wheeler
03-24-2009, 02:28 AM
Steven,
I'm competing in Biathlon (just the swim and run components) and Triathlon (swim/run/shoot) events at the moment, as well as separate fencing competitions. Next years goal is to add Tetrathlon (swim/run/shoot/fence), and possibly a full Pentathlon later in the year, depending on how my riding is going. The shorter events are popular, due to the logistical and financial burden of hosting a full event. I'm competing every 2-3 months at the moment, really just to gain experience and as a measure of how my training is progressing. Last Saturday I took 13 seconds off my 1000m run time and 4 seconds off my 100m swim time from 3 months ago, and there is definitely more to come.

Brandon - good suggestions, thanks. I think my strength and power could definitely improve, but running and swimming will take priority. I do track my training but will start to keep a more detailed log. I'll see how it goes for the next 3 months and then take stock.

Thanks again everyone, it's given me a great deal to think about and has definitely persuaded me to reduce my training load.

Steven Low
03-24-2009, 09:49 AM
Yeah, keep us informed.