Reps – love them and hate them
I have been swimming, cycling and running reps every week for months. They are a vital part of my training for the World Age Group Triathlon Championships. Reps (or repetitions) help you to build strength and speed. You run multiple shorter reps that build up to an overall faster time over a longer distance. That’s the theory and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t work. In fact, I know it does work because I have been getting faster in each discipline.
But every time I see reps on the training programme my heart drops. Reps hurt. The easy and steady reps are okay but the fast and flat out reps are beastly. Even if the reps are at a steady to fast pace, after eight to 10 of them they really hurt. The build up is the painful part and many times while swimming, cycling and running a rep has almost made me sick. (A few times I have been sick!)
The strange thing is that while I don’t like the thought of the reps, once I’m out there repeating myself I actually quite like the challenge. I like the rhythm and the pacing. I find I even enjoy the feeling of flogging myself to the point of being sick. That might sound odd but there is something very satisfying about seeing how far you can push your body. And the good thing about the reps for sprint triathlon training is they are never so long that you can’t see the end of them.
So typical reps in running will be 500m or 1k. For cycling I have been doing reps of 8 mins including 5 mins at race pace and a few one and two-minute flat out reps. In swimming the reps vary from 25m to 500m.
The after-effect always feels very good indeed. While my body generally feels pretty broken, my brain is on a high. I like that I have the self-resolve to push myself to my limits. I rarely cheat even when I am training alone. Reaching the end of a reps session, which at the outset seemed ludicrous and impossible, makes me feel very pleased with myself.
Right now there are only three weeks to go until the World Champs. This 10 day training programme will be the last of the tough reps. I am relishing this fact – and also aiming to do the very best I can in each reps session. It’s hard but it does make you faster.