Home > Tri Posts > Applying the Principle of Specificity

Applying the Principle of Specificity


I’ve decided over these next 6 weeks, leading up to my ‘A’ race of the season, I want to really focus on targeted training sessions, or what the Tri world calls Specificity.  I know, this seems like such an elementary concept to seasoned racers (or to many of us who blog like we’re seasoned racers – I’m picking on myself too here).  But I’ve actually been really bad at this lately.

Specificity is quite simply put:

Your body will adapt to the type of stress you put on it. These adaptations will relate to this type of stress being placed on the body and where they are being placed. For example if you want to be strong you must create demands from your body that require these changes. You can run 20 mile a day and you will not become strong because the demands you are placing on your body do not relate to strength they relate to endurance.

– From the Triathlon Training Blog

If you want to run faster, you need to do running speed drills.  If you want to be able to run longer, you need to do long run sessions.  If you want to bike faster, you need to do bike power drills.  If you want to bike longer, you need to do long bike rides.

If you consistently go out and run the same pace, the same distance, the same road, you will be the same runner with the same times.

– Abby, Run Stronger Every Day

Up until this point in my training, I’ve been primarily guilty of doing long runs, and long rides, and long swims, over and over again.  I give myself a bit of slack – I’m still pretty new at this, and still very overweight and out of shape.  Simply being able to run a certain distance without having to stop is a pretty big accomplishment for me

(yeah, I just linked to my own Twitter post… )

But I’ve reached that point where merely finishing isn’t enough any more.  I want to get better.  I want to be faster.  So I need to start putting in the right work to get faster.

Today I spent my lunch hour on the stationary bike at the gym doing overgear training and 1-leg drills.  It felt really weird to go in with a 30 minute plan, work hard for the prescribed 30 minutes (without concern for the average pace the machine told me I was keeping), and then get off the bike.  But I got my sweat on, that’s for sure.  I had kept to the plan – focused on developing speed and power on the bike (and not just the ability to stay in the saddle for long mileage).  Bonus: I didn’t have to ride for 2 hours to get a bike session in.

6 weeks to go until my ‘A’ race seems like a long time, and yet it really isn’t.  I want to look back at the end of that race – at the end of my season – and know I pushed myself.  It’s about training smarter, not training longer.

Do you have a favorite Swim/Bike/Run speed drill you like to do?

  1. August 2, 2013 at 12:25 am

    This is one of the reasons I invested in a coach this year. She’s made a world of difference in helping put together workout phases based on my races and events. There are even some time trials sprinkled throughout just to keep me honest and working hard towards my goals. I think if I didn’t have a coach I’d be guilty of the same thing day after day. Great reminder!

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