How They Train #3: Nicole Sifuentes 2005 Indoor Season

Leslie Sexton said 2 months ago
This is the third edition of ‘How They Train’ in which athletes and/or coaches will post an interesting block of training, provide some context and relevant detail, and avail themselves for an interactive Q & A in the Community Forum. This offers a great opportunity to learn the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of different training. Over time, we plan to host a variety of How They Train segments with friends and colleagues.

Please read through the posted training block, register an account if you haven’t already, and post your questions for Nicole Sifuentes. Starting Friday at 8pm, she will start answering any posted questions, checking in periodically over the subsequent 24 hours, and will aim to wrap-up by responding to any posts made by Saturday evening.

https://www.enduranceodyssey.ca/original.php?id=21

This post was edited by a Moderator 2 months ago .  
Steve Weiler said 2 months ago
Nicole, you highlighted that your college coach allowed you to have "a lot of input into my training;" can you go into a bit more detail about how your college coach would individualize for the different athletes - was that common across the whole team at Michigan? Did that include considerable input into racing frequency and event focus as well?

This post was edited by a Moderator 2 months ago .  
Reply #1
Nicole Sifuentes said 2 months ago
Hi Steve thanks for the question! During my freshman year, I remember being given a distance range for runs (for example 4-6 miles) where I would always opt for 4. I was also allowed (along with some other freshmen, based on event group and fitness level) to skip all the morning runs. When we were given the option of a day off or an easy run I would take the day off. So there were a lot of ways already in place to accommodate athletes from different event areas, 800m through the 10k, and freshmen up through 5th year. In my memory, I was just more outspoken than my peers on what I needed to do - keep the mileage low - because I was already taking a big increase from high school. I *never* did more than the minimum in volume. That being said, my comments in the training journal indicate that I wasn't a slacker and was able to push myself pretty hard in workouts. I just knew what would be too much for me and my coach didn't question that.
In every workout my coach would split us into sub groups based on ability level. When we did the same workout we would run different paces or fewer sets than other groups, so individualization was (and still is) very common at Michigan. I think the difference was that I took it a step further by articulating what I needed and what I knew worked well for me already. For example, it would have been my request to run 30's and 50's in practice.
I don't remember much about racing input. I was always game to race and was given an amazing range of opportunities from the 4x4, DMR (1200 and mile legs), 600m, 800, and mile. I loved all racing so was happy to be put in any event.
Reply #2
Ben Burr said 2 months ago
Hi Nicole. Thanks for sharing some of your old training and coming on here to answer questions!

I noticed throughout most of this period you had sore calves - not too surprising given all of the track workouts at a fast pace. It looked like you were very proactive about stretching, icing, and getting massages on them, even working out in heavier shoes to prevent them getting worse. How often throughout your career did you have to modify your training or effort level to avoid injury? Was this something you felt you did well?
Reply #3
Ben Burr said 2 months ago
Also, how did you balance backing off to prevent getting hurt versus knowing that NCAAs (or Commonwealths or World Indoors, etc) were coming up and you had to be sharp and as ready as possible?
Reply #4
Leslie Sexton said 2 months ago
Hi Nicole, it's really cool to have a look at your old training logs!

For many runners, freshman year/first year can be a big adjustment and isn't always a smooth transition, yet you had a very successful first indoor season at Michigan! You touched on the individualization of the training in your answer to Steve's question, but I was wondering if you could speak to how you approached the changes in training, racing and to your lifestyle that enabled you to be successful in your freshman year? As well, did you do anything specific in your mental approach to racing that helped you adapt to the pressure and competitiveness of NCAA racing?
Reply #5
Tim Hain said 2 months ago
Nicole, thanks very much for sharing your training and answering questions!
I had some questions about your pure speedwork - you mentioned that you had asked your coach to do those 30s and 50s. Would you do them on your own, or would other runners have joined you? I think about how sore I am after sprints - had you built up your muscles to do sprints with similar training in high school? Do you have any thoughts on how to safely incorporate more speed into one's training? (say by running at <100% or by easing into it?)
Reply #6
Steve Boyd said 2 months ago
Thanks for doing this, Nicole. Just wondering how your freshman XC season had gone. How much did your volume increase, and did you see similar improvements there as over your track distances?
Reply #7
Nicole Sifuentes said 2 months ago

Hi Nicole. Thanks for sharing some of your old training and coming on here to answer questions!

I noticed throughout most of this period you had sore calves - not too surprising given all of the track workouts at a fast pace. It looked like you were very proactive about stretching, icing, and getting massages on them, even working out in heavier shoes to prevent them getting worse. How often throughout your career did you have to modify your training or effort level to avoid injury? Was this something you felt you did well?



Thanks for the question! As a high schooler and into my freshman year my calves were very tight. They would cause both my feet to have altered sensation (pins & needles) which was painful. The lasting solution for this particular problem was increasing flexibility and mobility in hips and hamstrings.

To the bigger question - yes I would say I was pretty proactive with keeping myself healthy and preventing injuries. (On top of that I was/am naturally blessed with resiliency... no stress fractures ever) I nicknamed myself the "queen of self therapy" and had all the balls/rollers imaginable, with a specific use for them all. I used them all daily throughout my career and worked very diligently to keep my body healthy. I had very high body awareness and would not hesitate to back off training/cut a run or workout short to correct a problem or allow something to heal. I do not push through injury pain. *Key to this is knowing the difference between an injury pain and normal soreness and pain due to training hard.* This is something an athlete has to learn for him/herself and it definitely involves trial and error. It is a commitment that never ends (until retirement!) to good habits, awareness, self-therapy, and seeking proper assistance as necessary. I always got a weekly massage, even if feeling good, as injury prevention. With heightened intensity surrounding championships, I would get 2 massages weekly if I felt it was necessary.
Reply #8
Nicole Sifuentes said 2 months ago

Nicole, thanks very much for sharing your training and answering questions!
I had some questions about your pure speedwork - you mentioned that you had asked your coach to do those 30s and 50s. Would you do them on your own, or would other runners have joined you? I think about how sore I am after sprints - had you built up your muscles to do sprints with similar training in high school? Do you have any thoughts on how to safely incorporate more speed into one's training? (say by running at <100% or by easing into it?)



Hi Tim,
Unfortunately I don't remember whether I ran them with others or alone at the time. In high school I ran them with my club training partners, so I was definitely accustomed to it. Furthermore, I was 18 years old, and youngsters like that can recover so quickly! Depending on your event focus I am not entirely convinced of the importance of 30's and 50's. In high school I ran the 400 & 800 with the occasional 200 and 1500, so it made more sense. Also I was developing my speed at a young age. Later in my career, the shortest/fastest reps I would do were 6x150m with full rest, in ~18-19sec or 5x200 in ~26sec. We did these workouts rarely because it took me a long time to recover from them. The energy systems used in 30/50m is a lot different than even 150/200m repeats.

I think the safest way to incorporate speed (and basically any new training mode) is to do it gradually as you mentioned, and with adequate recovery. If you do some gentle 100m repeats where you build up speed to perhaps 80% of your top speed and then coast out of it, try that a few times with a slow walk-back rest, and then see how you feel in the next 1-2 days. If very sore, then do not progress the next time, just try the same volume or reduced volume after allowing adequate rest, perhaps the following week. If not sore then try going to 90% the next time. Warm up, cool down, foam roll, do your due diligence to care for your body and be patient. Depending on your event area and goals, it may not be necessary to ever to all-out sprinting.
Reply #9
Nicole Sifuentes said 2 months ago

Hi Nicole, it's really cool to have a look at your old training logs!

For many runners, freshman year/first year can be a big adjustment and isn't always a smooth transition, yet you had a very successful first indoor season at Michigan! You touched on the individualization of the training in your answer to Steve's question, but I was wondering if you could speak to how you approached the changes in training, racing and to your lifestyle that enabled you to be successful in your freshman year? As well, did you do anything specific in your mental approach to racing that helped you adapt to the pressure and competitiveness of NCAA racing?



Thanks for your question Leslie! In high school, my coach had already taught me some mental skills such as visualization and calming breathing which I carried with me into college. I thrived in the NCAA competition and was happy to be there. In terms of lifestyle, I lived very differently than the average freshman. I have always prioritized sleep almost above everything... it sounds extreme, but I believe getting enough rest was absolutely huge for me in staying healthy and running fast. To an extent I valued sleep over homework and assignments. I was absolutely fine with getting B's even when knowing more work/ staying up later would get me an A. I didn't really party and when I went out, I'd still be home and in bed by midnight because I was tired haha. I never got drunk. On weekends and travel trips my peers did homework and studied while I took 3-4 hour naps. I also took the minimum credit hours to be eligible as a student athlete so I wouldn't over-extend myself. (I enrolled in classes during spring term, took a 5th year and graduated civil eng with honours, so I wasn't a slacker, but I took my time with school.)
Reply #10
Nicole Sifuentes said 2 months ago

Thanks for doing this, Nicole. Just wondering how your freshman XC season had gone. How much did your volume increase, and did you see similar improvements there as over your track distances?



My freshman XC season I redshirted. I ran pretty well but don't have much memory of it since I just did a couple races unattached. I looked this up in my training logs: I ran ~18:30 in two 5k races, on different courses, the second course was more challenging so it was a better performance. Definitely better than in hs but I can't really quantify it the same way as track. Volume I would have to check but even up to my senior year at Michigan I never went past 50mpw. I'm guessing freshman year was consistent in the upper 20's low 30's (this is an estimate) which was an increase from high school. I did not tally volume in high school.
Reply #11
Nicole Sifuentes said 2 months ago

Also, how did you balance backing off to prevent getting hurt versus knowing that NCAAs (or Commonwealths or World Indoors, etc) were coming up and you had to be sharp and as ready as possible?



Fortunately for me this was never a huge issue. I was very resilient, took care of my body and knew what I needed to recovery properly. I made missteps in training too much not during championships season but in the off-season, where I at times would over-train and become very tired and inconsistent in workouts. My body didn't get hurt so I could keep pushing and sometimes asked too much of myself during seasons of high volume. This was mainly an issue after college, where there actually is an off-season!
Reply #12

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