What is Training Intensity?
A systematic approach to training involves targeted training—that is, training that targets particular training effects. And to train with precision, one needs a way to measure and monitor training intensity during workouts. This chapter provides you with a system of training zones to use with your training program. The workouts detailed later in the guide prescribe intensity based on these zones.
Remember, to improve your fitness you need to add a training load to stimulate positive adaptations. In discussing training loads, I noted there are two key elements you need to keep in mind: volume and intensity. Volume is easy to measure by simply adding up the duration (or distance) of each training session. One can then talk about weekly training hours (or distances), monthly training hours (or distances), a season’s training hours (or distances), etc. But training requires more than simply logging time (or distance). You also need to take into account the intensity level of the training you do.
Training intensity refers to the exertion level put forth during training. Is your workout “easy” or “hard”? Were you able to talk while doing that run or were you gasping for air? How fast did you swim that interval? These are all factors that can help characterize the intensity at which you are working. As indicated by the previous questions, intensity can be measured in a number of ways.
One of the easiest ways to monitor your effort is through perceived exertion, which means you subjectively gauge how hard you are working. Another way is to use a watch or GPS device to record your time over a certain distance and monitor your pace. You could also use a power meter — for cycling or running — or a heart rate monitor to measure your intensity level.
Heart rate monitors and power meters provide invaluable feedback to help dial in the prescribed intensity during workouts. This is especially important if you have trouble subjectively gauging your effort. Even as you become more in tune with your body and are comfortable training by feel or only with a watch, the heart rate (and/or power) data from a training session can be downloaded for later analysis. This can provide insight into your response to a particular workout or progression over time. So if you’re more of a data geek or want to keep closer tabs on your training, choose a heart rate monitor (and/or power meter). But if you’re drawn to the keep-it-simple approach, training by perceived exertion (“training by feel”) and/or with a watch works, too. You can choose any one of these options—or, preferably, draw from a combination of these options—with the workouts provided in this guide.
TRAINING GUIDE CONTENTS
– Train with a Purpose
– The ABCs of Systematic Training
– The R&R of Training
– Begin with the End in Mind
2. Exercise Science Concepts
– Overreaching and Overtraining
– Energy Systems
– Aerobic Capacity
– Lactate Threshold
– Aerobic Threshold
– Muscle Fiber Types
3. Monitor Your Training Intensity
– What is Training Intensity?
– Key Indicators of Intensity
– Using Training Zones
– Training by Feel, or Perceived Exertion
– Training with Pace
– Training with Heart Rate
– Running with Power
4. Create Your Training Plan
– Prioritizing Your Events
– Overview of the Training Phases
– Choosing Your Periodization Schedule
– Filling in the Details of the Overall Plan
5. Create Your Weekly Workouts
– Creating Weekly Schedules
– Establishing and Developing Your Base
– Building Upon Your Base
– Peaking for Your Target Event
– Race Week and Race Day Warmup
6. Functional Strength
7. Recovery and Nutrition
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