Friday, December 25, 2009

Rethinking LSD Base Training


The primary reasons to reconsider the effectiveness of LSD training are:

1. Fails to recognize that athletes are generally active throughout the year and prepossess a stable muscle structure and base level of conditioning
2. Exaggerates the period of time necessary to build base before moving on to more focused and productive training intensities
3. Fails to consider that there may be other more effective methods for building base

....When training is reduced, such as during off-season, speed and strength are the first things that one loses, and endurance the last. Why then does one do exhaustive training for a system that is the last to go, quickest to build, and prepares you for little else other than riding slowly? During the cold and dark winter months, how practical is it to build base with the traditional just keep adding hours method, particularly for multi-sport athletes who train other sports as well? What will yet another year of LSD prep do to improve previous seasons’ results? My experience is that the same process has an uncanny knack for producing the same old results. In both my own training, and that of coaching hundreds of athletes over the years, I have found that a steady diet of strength work and threshold training is a far more effective way to build base than the traditional LSD for several months approach.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hold Back the Newbie

From The New York Times

The theory is that the three sports work different muscles, ideally minimizing the strain on any single muscle set. For runners in particular, adding biking and swimming to their repertory means less pounding against pavement.

But in practice, people who take up triathlons tend to train harder, adding rigors to their workouts without necessarily subtracting anything. Thus, the idea that people can reduce their chance of injury by competing in triathlons may be a fallacy.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

5 Keys to Recovery

Video from

Peter McGill: "There are no good workouts; there are only good training programs. Workouts are just links in a must leave the chain strong."

Coach Pete McGill covers his five keys to recovery:
Glycogen Replacement and Rehydration
Static Stretching
Injury Prevention Exercises
Core Work

Click here to watch the video.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chuckie's Swim Cheat Sheet


Skills/Form (e.g., 25s and always!)
(The goal: develop optimal technique/rhythm)

Endurance (e.g., 500s; pyramids; anything here on short rest)
(The goal: build engine low-end/aerobic base)

Steady State (e.g., T1000; T2000; T5000)
(The goal: test/compare; build engine economy)

Strength (e.g., tube; paddles; cords; Vasa; fly)
(The goal: develop strength/force)

Power (e.g., 100x25s; 50x50s; butterfly; deep-H2O starts)
(The goal: fast force on enough rest)

Anaerobic (e.g., 75s; broken 250s; broken 150s; T400>)
(The goal: simulate race starts; build engine top-end)

Speed (e.g., 25s on full rest)
(The goal: fast muscular movement; no resistance)

Fun (e.g., open-water swims, Masters meets, races, relays)
(The goal: break up the monotony of swimming!)

...Obviously form development/technique is critical and must always be a consideration.... Beyond that comes basic endurance (or the ability to in NOT slow down, also known as stamina) and then strength, or the ability to generate more force. Power, in my mind, is next on the list. Power is basically just fast force but what I typically see when athletes try to apply more power is that rather than speed up, they simply flail faster, so it always seems to come back to form/technique. Without perfecting your form the water gets thicker yet. Don't be just as thick and expect to muscle through it.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Amazing Earl Fee

From Earl Fee (81yr old who runs 66 second 400s!)

My main training secret which has resulted in 53 master’s world records in running and hurdling in the past 24 years__ is to age slower than my rivals. My main competitor in the 100m at these recent World Games, was also the same age. He had it right when he said to me, “You are much younger than me”__meaning in body. So I urge you to adopt this goal also of aging slower than your rivals. My latest book, 100 Years Young the Natural Way - Body, Mind, Spirit Training, to be published late next year, would assist in this goal. This goal requires physical activity and mental activity most days of the week, but it is necessary to have physical intensity on some days above about 85% maximum heart rate. Intensity produces growth hormone, and prevents loss of fast twitch muscle fibers: hence slows down aging. Unfortunately only about 6% of those over 75 are doing regular physical exercise of any kind and no stretching or weight training to compensate for loss of muscle and flexibility with age.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Long Run - A Great Summary


The purpose of easy and long runs is to stimulate the physiological, biochemical, and molecular adaptations needed for endurance, including the storage of more fuel (glycogen) in your muscles, an increased use of intramuscular fat at the same speed to spare glycogen, an increased number of red blood cells and hemoglobin, a greater capillary network for a more rapid diffusion of oxygen into the muscles, and an increased mitochondrial density and number of aerobic enzymes to enhance your aerobic metabolic capacity. Since many of these adaptations are volume-dependent, not intensity-dependent, the speed of easy runs is not as important as their duration. The single biggest mistake competitive runners make is running too fast on their easy days. By doing so, they add unnecessary stress to their legs without any extra benefit and they won’t be able to run as much quality on their harder days.

Heart Rate vs Power in Training


Skeptical coaches and exercise scientists pointed to the limitations of heart rate monitoring and the dangers of over-relying on it. With the advent of power meters for cycling, some coaches and experts began to argue that proper use of a power meter makes heart rate monitoring pointless. And with the advent of run speed and distance devices, the same argument is now being made to runners.

My position is not quite so extreme. I believe that there is potential value in heart rate monitoring, but that heart rate should be used as an intensity metric secondary to power or pace. First let me make the case against heart rate monitoring, then the case for it, and then let you decide what to do.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sprints to Build Endurance

From Dr. Mirkin

Two years ago, Dr. Bangsbo did ground-breaking research supporting the leading theory that exhaustion of the sodium- potassium pump is the major cause of muscle fatigue during exercise (Acta Physiologica, November 2007). In this new study, he shows how sprint training improves a muscle's capacity to pump potassium back inside muscle cells during exercise, which helps all athletes run or cycle faster in competition, even in endurance events such as marathons and multi-day bicycle races.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

No Such Thing as Caloric Afterburn

From the NY Times

To their surprise, the researchers found that none of the groups, including the athletes, experienced “afterburn.” They did not use additional body fat on the day when they exercised. In fact, most of the subjects burned slightly less fat over the 24-hour study period when they exercised than when they did not.

“The message of our work is really simple,” although not agreeable to hear, Melanson said. “It all comes down to energy balance,” or, as you might have guessed, calories in and calories out. People “are only burning 200 or 300 calories” in a typical 30-minute exercise session, Melanson points out. “You replace that with one bottle of Gatorade.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ironman is Simple, but Hard


Though I pride myself on being a knowledgeable coach I must also admit that there's little complicated about training. But most multisport coaches, it seems, want you to believe that training is strictly a science---a precision---so they can sell you their services.

In truth, of course, training is only as complicated as we choose to make it (much like life). And this is especially so when it comes to Ironman events. Ironmans are obviously very demanding events; so much so that a few things stand absolutely clear when watching them. While the ideal Ironman performance is hard to nail, it is, nevertheless, quite straightforward. (Remember: simple does not mean easy! For example, the ol' one foot in front of the other routine seems simple enough, but after tens of thousands {or millions} of them, there's nothing easy about it.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Coaches: You are the Model

From Swim Smooth

The people you allow into your life and who you spend the most time with, are the greatest external factors to the direction your life will take. Yes, external influences are that powerful.
It is known that you will be the combined average of the 5 people you spend the most time with; you will have the combined lifestyle, health practices, thinking processes, expectations and income.
Think about it. Whatever is consistently entering your experience ends up becoming your reality. Similarly, whoever is consistently in your experience is bringing dominate thoughts, attitudes and actions to your reality.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

LT Training Key to Beating Fatigue

From Running Times

While the lactate threshold is the fastest running speed above which lactate accumulates and acidosis occurs, what it really represents, in simple terms, is your ability to withstand fatigue and run hard for long periods of time. Research has shown that people with less fatigueable muscles produce less lactate during exercise, have a higher lactate threshold, and are able to perform at higher relative exercise intensities for prolonged periods.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Group Workouts Allow Greater Intensity

From The Economist

The researchers got 12 members of Oxford ’s heavyweight squad to row on machines in four 45-minute sessions over two weeks. In two sessions they rowed in complete isolation and in the others in groups of six, perfectly synchronised. Immediately following each session their endorphin levels were tested. Because endorphin levels can only be measured directly through an invasive lumbar puncture—unfeasible, even for notoriously pain-hungry oarsmen—the researchers used a readily accepted proxy: they deduced pain tolerance, and hence endorphin levels, by gradually tightening a cuff around each rower’s arm. When he said “now” they stopped squeezing and noted the pressure. As expected, the rowers’ pain thresholds were significantly higher following the group sessions. This was despite nearly identical power outputs in all four tests and efforts to control for possible confounding variables, such as the time of day.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Low Carb Training


For years, well intentioned coaches and exercise physiologists have given endurance athletes very strong recommendations to ensure high carbohydrate intake during training and racing to optimize performance. Some recent experimental evidence and the actual practice of some very successful athletes has many of us rethinking our previous advice especially in regard to training. As a coach, I sometimes encourage my athletes to purposefully deplete glycogen stores during training or to limit the intake of carbohydrate during certain endurance training sessions.

The Dangers of Intensity


Alan provided me with a great way to define Red Zone training – it’s anything that you can’t repeat tomorrow. Given that fitness is built from the capacity to repeat relevant sessions – the bulk of our training will need to be 1/2 effort most of the time AND, most importantly, the session that you can handle has no impact on the session that I can handle

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Joe Says Whoa on Sodium

From Joe Friel

I’ve been doing a lot of reading in the literature and talking with informed people regarding, especially, sodium. I’m coming to the conclusion that sodium is not necessary during exercise for all of the reasons we have previously been told were so critical - cramping, coping with heat, and maintaining pace/power. I can find no good evidence to support any of these. Just a lot of opinions and sports drink marketing stuff (which most athletes have come to accept as factual).

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Drink to Thirst

(Editor's Note: For the longest time I practiced and preached a philosophy that one needed to drink more than thirst. Mark Allen first taught me that you can train your fluid requirements to some extent and soon require less. My initial work on this was very successful. Then Tim Noakes' experiments, mentioned in the article below, further confirmed it. A week ago I went for an easy 4 hour ride in admittedly moderate temperatures (~20C), drank to thirst and only consumed 750ml of water. I checked my pee after the ride and there were no signs of dehydration. This is not an experiement I recommend to others because of the many variables but it should lead you to perhaps reconsider and further analyse your hydration practices)


How much should you drink? Studies such as the one above suggest that you should simply drink according to your thirst. Drinking more will neither keep you cooler nor improve your performance; but it will increase your chances of suffering from GI distress.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Minimizing the Importance of VO2Max

From Matt Fitzgerald

Ross Tucker, PhD, a South African exercise physiologist and coauthor of The Runner’s Body (Rodale, 2009), points to two reasons. “The attraction of finding a single value that determines your performance ability is too great to resist,” he says, “so the notion that VO2max is the physiological stand-in for performance potential has become something of a dogma among runners and within exercise physiology, despite the abundant evidence that performance is far more complex than a single number.”

“Another reason for the exaggerated importance of VO2max to performance is that it is so easy to measure and quantify,” Tucker continues. “Some of the other factors that are recognized for running success, such as muscle-tendon elasticity, the ability to use fat as fuel and the capacity to generate ATP at rapid rates are a lot more difficult to measure, and often impossible to quantify or compare from one runner to the next.”

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Intensity vs Volume

Last winter I did a little n=1 experiment. I had not done a run of longer than 30 minutes for 3 months. Then, I proceded in this manner: I restricted myself to 2 to 3 30 minute interval-based (Zone 4/5) treadmill workouts per week for 6 weeks. I then did a 90 minute continuous Zone 2/3 run on the treadmill. The result was that I felt fine - no excess muscular or metabolic fatigue. Interestingly, the only 'new fatigue' was was found in my respiratory muscles of the ribs.

Here's a study recently released on the same subject:

From or PubMed

The major novel finding from the present study was that six sessions of either low volume SIT (short interval training) or traditional high volume ET (longer endurance training) induced similar improvements in muscle oxidative capacity, muscle buffering capacity and exercise performance. To our knowledge this is the first study to directly compare interval versus continuous training using a research design that matched groups with respect to exercise mode (cycling), training frequency (3 × per week) and training duration (2 weeks), but differed in terms of total training volume and time commitment. Several previous studies have examined muscle metabolic and/or performance adaptations to interval versus continuous training (Henriksson & Reitman, 1976; Saltin et al. 1976; Eddy et al. 1977; Fournier et al. 1982; Gorostiaga et al. 1991; Edge et al. 2006), but the data are equivocal and in all cases the total volume of work was similar between groups. The present study was unique because, by design, the total training volume for the SIT group was only ∼10% that of the ET group (i.e. 630 versus 6500 kJ). In addition, the total training time commitment over 2 weeks was ∼2.5 h for the SIT group (including the work intervals and the recovery periods between intervals), whereas the ET group performed continuous exercise each training day for a total of ∼10.5 h. Thus, while previously speculated by others (Coyle, 2005), to our knowledge this is the first study to demonstrate that SIT is indeed a very ‘time efficient’ training strategy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sleep and Get Fitter

From Sweat Science

Anew study from Stanford University asked five members of the women’s tennis team to extend their sleep times to 10 hours a night, and monitored the changes in athletic performance:

Results of the study indicated that sleep extension in athletes was associated with a faster sprinting drill (approximately 19.12 seconds at baseline versus 17.56 seconds at end of sleep extension), increased hitting accuracy including valid serves (12.6 serves compared to 15.61 serves), and hitting depth drill (10.85 hits versus 15.45 hits).

This is not earth-shattering news. Cheri Mah, the researcher involved, presented similar results on swimmers in 2008, and on basketball players in 2007.

Recovery Post-Race Before Hammering Forward

I remind my athletes all the time to allow their bodies to recovery after a race in order to absorb the fitness gained and avoid injuries. Often, triathletes finish and then, riding a post-race high (or perhaps even post-race blues), they want to get right back to work. Here's something from Mark Allen on the subject:


There is no formula for the amount of time this will take. It depends on the race distance, the number of years you have raced, your age, and the overall accumulation of stress on your body from all areas of life. But general rules of thumb are as follows:
• For a sprint or Olympic key goal race usually at least one week of easy recovery training that is not structured will do the trick.
• For a half IM distance people tend to need up to two weeks if not a little more before they are really charged up and ready to go forward with a new big schedule.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Good Overview of Run Technique


The combination of a light, wheeling turnover, minimized bouncing, and greater quadriceps flexibility and knee flexion can help you achieve the right stride length and cadence for improved speeds at reduced injury risk, whether you're on an easy recovery run or in the midst of an intense track workout.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's Not Rocket Science


Training for triathlon is actually much simpler than you think. You don't need any expensive equipment or the latest gadgets, all you need is to swim, bike and run while developing the proper skills, strength, speed and a bit of endurance as well. Everything else is about how you live your life (proper balance); the quality of sleep you have every night, your daily diet, how you deal with stress (physical and emotional) and commitments, level of fitness (body weight and percentage of lean muscle mass) and the training consistency.

(Editor's Note: Amen!)

More Truth According to Doc

From Brett Sutton

(On dealing with injuries....)

Accept it, plot your plan to deal with it . Work out the exercises that you can do to keep residual fitness then take it one day at a time , and focus only on recovery and enjoying the challellenge
switch off from your sport; take a mind rest from triathlon. You will come back refreshed , healthy and strong and then muscle memory, a very underated procedure our bodies carry , will shock the bike pants off you .

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lactic Acid Myths

From Matt Fitzgerald

The February 2009 issue of Triathlete Magazine contains a feature article, which I wrote, entitled, “The Lactic Acid Myths.” It summarizes the latest scientific knowledge of lactate metabolism, which includes the following points: 1) the human body does not produce lactic acid at all, but lactate; 2) lactate does not cause muscular acidosis; 3) muscular acidosis is only a minor cause of muscle fatigue; 4) muscle cell depolarization is a much more potent cause of muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercise; 5) lactate actually delays fatigue caused by muscle cell depolarization; 6) the body can recycle lactate to glucose, the muscles’ primary source of fuel for high-intensity exercise; 7) lactate can be directly oxidized inside cellular mitochondria to yield energy (in other words, far from being a byproduct of anaerobic metabolism, lactate is an aerobic fuel); 75 percent of the lactate produced by the muscles during exercise never leaves the muscle cells but is used directly for energy; 9) lactate production during exercise upregulates genes that generate new mitochondria (in other words, high levels of exposure to lactate during exercise lead to physiological adaptations that strengthen aerobic capacity).

Racing Weight

From Matt Fitzgerald

(World Champion Andy Potts) says that he struggles to remain heavy enough during periods of peak training and takes aggressive measures–such as eating gourmet pretzels!–to keep from becoming too lean before it’s time to peak, or he gets run down. He has found that he is only able to productively hold his optimal racing weight for a short time, just as he is only able to hold peak race fitness for a short time. So he watches his weight carefully and does everything he can to keep it at what he considers the optimal training level until it’s time to pull the trigger on a racing peak.

Push Your Limits

From Matt Fitzgerald

Quoting Michael Atkinson, PhD, a sociologist at England’s Loughborough University:

"In our culture we are told that suffering is a bad thing, and you should never do it. But these people say to me that when you discover that suffering isn’t going to kill you, a lot of really important things about yourself are revealed to you. You learn a ton about who you are and what you’re capable of, not just physically but also mentally. This becomes a vehicle of self-exploration."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Repeat Workouts and Learn a Deeper Lesson


The first handful of times you repeat a session/plan, you are only just getting into the routine or swing of things but even then, you'll start to notice little subtleties in the impact from other things.

If you explore deeply (repeat over and over), rather then widely (changing often), you'll develop a greater understanding of your training. With the sessions being KNOWN, you can start to see the impact from other sessions. Did dinner last night help or hinder? How much sleep did I get? How was my attitude going into the session? What are my stress levels like? And any number of other factors that present you with huge learning opportunities to continually refine your approach so that you get more and more out of each time you repeat that session.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Watch For Symptoms of Overtraining

From Joe Friel

There are several categories of markers that may predict when you are exceeding your overtraining threshold. They are:

Fatigue which doesn’t go away with 48 hours of low workload or even time off from training. The legs feel tired or there is general body weariness that lingers even after taking it easy for two days.

Little control of emotions — evidence of anger, feeling sorry for yourself, moodiness, depression, grumpiness. In short, you are hard to live with. A spouse or roommate may be the first to recognize this.

Performance declines. For example, you are slower at a given heart rate, or for any given speed, heart rate is higher than usual.

Self-confidence declines. This may be the best marker, but it’s hard to assess. One way to do it may be in the athlete trying to visualize accomplishing a very high workout or race goal. If it seems out of reach and farfetched, self-confidence may be low.

When any of these markers show up and linger for more than three days, there’s a good chance that the overtraining threshold has been exceeded. At this point the workload must be reduced immediately until you are back to normal. Then take time to evaluate what level of workload produced the problem, and make adjustments as you start back into higher workloads.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

More Truth According to Doc

From Brett Sutton

I know the true meaning of winning, and that is to do better than you ever have before .
To thyself be true. You must do it for your own personal reasons, revel in knowing you're doing a good job. Take a little read of Kipling and treat it all as the imposter it is.

Editor's note: From Kipling's If: "...If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same....yours is the earth and everything that's in it..."

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pacing a Bike Time Trial

From Joe Friel

I like to have the riders I coach divide the time trial course into four quarters...

Q1. In the first they simply try to hold back. The tendency is to go out much too fast and pay the price later on. Heart rate will mean little here. RPE is everything, especially if you don’t have a power meter. If you start breathing hard here you went out much too fast.

Q2. In the second quarter, if you don’t have a power meter, heart rate and speed are watched closely. If using a heart rate monitor and RPE stay in your goal average zone with an RPE which is only slightly harder than for the first quarter. Do not let heart rate rise above goal heart rate.

Q3. If you will slow down, this is when it will happen. The purpose of the first half of the race is to prepare you for this section. If you controlled your effort and stayed in the moment earlier you will now be able to maintain average power, heart rate or speed here, altho it will now feel much harder. Maintain focus and effort.

Q4. In the fourth quarter you know there are only a few agonizing minutes left. The end is mentally in sight. It’s just like the horse smelling the barn – you feel capable of increasing the RPE. Now you can race others IF you held back in quarters 1 and 2.

Maintain the Adventure

From Gordo Byrn

This week's title is short for "Why wait to be great" - a mantra from my elite racing days. For athletics, the mantra was a reminder to maintain my adventuresome spirit. While it is true that all we really need is a reasonable weekly structure, it takes so long to get decent (to achieve our own 'greatness') that compliance is increased if we maintain the adventure in our training. In reality, athletics is no different than our wider lives. If you pursue sport for long enough then your approach (and often your successes) will bring out self-limiting patterns and habits. As adult athletes, it is far easier for us to maintain an open mind athletically than in the other areas of our lives (where we've been repeating patterns for years). Perhaps this is a good reason to change careers, or cultures, every decade, or so.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lactate Testing VS Field Testing

I've tried to present an objective comparison below. Truth be known, I'm a believer that there is no better measure of performance than performance itself.

Lactate testing:
- Measures lactate at various work outputs: power (wattage or pace) at aerobic capacity, power at anaerobic capacity
- More power at given lactate value equals higher fitness.
- Level of change can be gauge of effectiveness of training with modifications based on response.
- Retesting is important as lactate function changes with training
- Can uncover relative weakness and show where training should be focused more, aerobic or anaerobic
- Tells us what lactate is at various paces, therefore what paces we should train at for various zones, 1 through 5

Field Testing:
- What the body is able to achieve in field tests (going as hard as you can for x minutes sustainably) tells us the workload at functional threshold.
- Relative paces (endurance, tempo, VO2Max) can be determined from field test using available charts (ie MacMillan, Coogan)
- These same charts will reveal relative weaknesses if they exist at different exertion levels
- Field test workload at functional threshold (determined by perceived exertion) is indicator of improved fitness and training effectiveness

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Ulimate Recovery Routine

From Endurance Corner

(Editor's Note: Pro's spent as much time or more on recovery. Here's an example of what they do.)

1. Perform a 15 minute cooldown at a very low intensity (<60% max HR)
2. Have sports drink mixed to 75-90g of Carbohydrate and 10-20g or protein at the ready.
3. Finish your session at the health club and head for the deep end of the cold pool (or prep an ice-bath if at home). Continue to sip sports drink for 20-30min while ‘flopping’ around in the pool.
4. If not excessively sore, do 2-3 cycles of alternating 2mins in the pool w/8mins in the hot tub.
5. Get changed, put compression garments on and head home, continuing to sip sports drink
6. Drink a smoothie when you get home containing 40g CHO/10g EAAs
7. Do 20mins of self massage, 20mins of supine yoga and 20mins of meditation/progressive relaxation, incorporating inverted/semi-inverted postures (see Gordo’s post workout stretch routine in Going Long for a good starting point).
8. Eat a snack of 75-90g of CHO and 20g of Protein with a high water content and mix of sugars (e.g. fruit plus yogurt)
9. Take a 1-2hr nap with legs elevated and compression gear on.
10. Eat another snack of 75-90g of CHO and 20g of Protein with a lower glycemic index (mainly fruit & veg) and some healthy fats.

How Many Weeks to Peak

From Matt Fitzgerald

Among the few running experts who have explicitly addressed the matter of optimal training duration is Jack Daniels.... Daniels identifies 24 weeks as the ideal training duration for all race distances and for runners of all levels, with some exceptions.... one can deduce from his overall explanation of his training system that it simply takes 24 weeks to work through all four phases of his periodization method, but no longer.... Not only is 24 weeks enough time to cultivate peak fitness for any race, but it’s also approximately the maximum amount of time one can train progressively without burning out.

Jack Daniels’ approach is not the only approach to determining how long runners train for specific events.... Hudson believes in maintaining a high level of aerobic fitness and speed year-round in his runners, so that they require little time at all sharpen up for peak performance. His marathoners typically devote only 12 weeks to focused preparation for their big races.... Hudson’s runners would likely become overtrained if they trained longer than 12 weeks for a marathon....

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Should I buy the latest gadget?

I'm asked this all the time:
If I buy and use this gadget, will it make me faster?

My answer:
If it motivates you to train, then it will make you faster
because training makes you faster.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Truth According to Doc

Some highlights from Brett Sutton's posts on the Team TBB message board.

"Play the day, not the splits." (ie Race day can present challenges that make time goals less relevant.)

On Training Camps:
"what i tell most age groupers , when you get some time off work .
stick to your plan .
dont add mega hours , may be a little longer on the long bike , a little more on the long run .
but add in the rest .
give your self a treat , rest before and after training .
then you will go back to your usual situation
refreshed ,improved by the break , and can build on it .
its astonishing how many in europe go to these early season holiday slash trainng camps , get home injured , or fried , and need to take it eassy for 3 weeks .
so one has defeated the purpose , of going on the camp in the first place ."

On the mental side of Ironman:
"ironman is all about mind .
not like short distance ,
where you might be negative but the body feels good and so a good race can be had .
not in the real race ,
you go in negative ,
your dead in the water before you clear the swim
thats why i like it .
you cant fudge ironman , its only for iron people"

Monday, April 13, 2009

How Slowtwitch Fibers Adapt

From Slowtwitch

I have wondered for some time about an aspect of muscular recovery. When we do resistance exercise, our muscles get sore then rebuild and become larger, a process called hypertrophy. Since slowtwitch muscles have less potential for growth in size compared to fast twitch, many experienced endurance athletes (ie marathon runners) have achieved close to their maximal slowtwitch hypertrophy. My question was this: if our slowtwitch muscles get sore after a long run, then repair and are less sore after the next long run, what adaptation is taking place to decrease the soreness if it isn't hypertrophy? Here is the explanation I received that was later supported by a friend that is an Exercise Physiologist.

"(This adaptation) is well acknowledged in the scientific world and attributed to some adaptive response that appears to attenuate the inflammatory response, hence reducing the secondary injury....The nature of the adaptive response is still unclear, but happens within a couple weeks after the initial novel exercise, and lasts for quite a while."

So, the body develops a tolerance to the stress hormones that are released as a result of the long run resulting in less soreness. Another factor that fits in to this topic is the fact that the training will increase the muscular efficiency meaning glycogen is spared, more fat burned, and less catabolic damage to the tissue.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Intensity is Always the Most Potent Producer of Fitness

From Running Research News

(Study comparing runners doing 200 and 400m intervals vs runners doing 30 minute tempo at lactate threshold.)
After 10 weeks, the runners from both groups ran 800-meter and 10-K races. In these competitions, the interval-trained runners fared far better than the tempo-tutored harriers. For example, the interval-based runners improved 800-meter time by an average of 11.2 seconds and bettered previous 10-K times by 2.1 minutes. Meanwhile, the tempo-training devotees shaved just 6.6 seconds from their 800-meter times and upgraded 10-K running by only 1.1 minute, roughly half the improvement achieved by the interval-trained competitors. VO2max soared by 12 percent for the interval runners but nudged upward by only 4 percent for the tempo-trained runners.

These results were observed even though the tempo-trained individuals engaged in a far-greater amount of quality work over the 10-week period. Specifically, the tempo runners completed 58 minutes per week of tempo training, while the interval individuals spent just 31 minutes per week conducting fast interval effort. This led to a 270-minute edge in quality training for the tempo group over the 10-week period.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Use Functional Threshold Power to Determine Workout Intensity

From Slowtwitch

Rich Strauss from

I don't work with aerobic threshold. I think like this:
* Establish FTP
* Work at percentages of FTP to achieve certain adaptations:
o To lift FTP (get faster), do intervals at 95-100% of FTP
o To rack up a lot of TSS/hr (train time-efficiently), ride at 80-85% a lot. This is also HIM specific intensity, roughly
o To focus on IM specific stuff (intensity, positional adaptation, and generally get good at all the stuff you'll do in an IM bike), ride at 68-75% of FTP.
These go into a training mix and think of it as the ingredient slidersorwhatever on the Infinit site. Depending on where you are in the season, time avaiable to train, how close you are to your race, you move these sliders left or right.
I'm not very concerned with what's going on in the body. Focus on what you can do, express everything as a percentage of what you can do, and if you want to get better at a thing, do that thing. Life, not a spreadsheet, dictates how much time you have to do a thing.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Balance Cortisol and GH to Avoid Overtraining

From FloTrack

If you keep exercising without a recovery day to two, you will feel good for a while; GH (growth hormone) is elevating after each workout. Think back to the first few days when practice starts up each year… by the end of the first week you are thinking nothing but PRs, you are superman (or superwoman). Then you start to feel a little weak by the next week…..look at the resting levels of cortisol (stress hormone), in the background they are going to work. Getting after it day in and day out may lead to a decrease in protein synthesis and you begin to break down. Instead of thinking you are getting out of shape, and feeling like you need to go harder, take a step back. Break apart your week, your month, and look at the big picture. Living in Edge City is tricky, and you only get the most out of training hard by spending a few days relaxing in the park

Know the Two Types of Overtraining

From FloTrack

(Editor: This is pretty heady stuff, but I recommend wading through and learning.)

Addisonoid type of overtraining is when the parasympathetic system and vagal tone or dominant. Basedovoid overtraining is when the sympathetic system dominates and the athlete is in a hyperadrenergic state. Basedovoid overtraining encompasses the more classic symptoms you have probably all experienced: sleep disturbance, lack of appetite, high resting heart rate, depression, and irritability. As a distance runner you would experience this during the intense workout part of the season, and it is generally encountered in power sports. Addisonoid overtraining is harder to diagnosis because you do not show the classic symptoms, but the end result, a.k.a. your performance will be hindered. Addisonian overtraining is typically a result of high volume monotonous training, as seen in base training. Bringing it back to hormones; these types are both related to adrenocortical subactivity or thyroid hyperfunction.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

VO2Max Sets: It's about strength, not a higher #

From BrianMac

VO2max on its own is a poor predictor of performance but using the velocity (vVO2max) and duration (tlimvVO2max) that an athlete can operate at their VO2max will provide a better indication of performance. vVO2max is the minimal running velocity which produces VO2Max i.e. causes your muscular system to utilise oxygen at its highest possible rate.

Running at vVO2max increases leg muscle strength and power, and enhanced strength tends to improve economy (muscle cells are stronger, fewer needed to run at a particular pace, thus the energy expenditure is lower). vVO2max effort boosts neuromuscular responsiveness and coordination which reduces energy expenditure.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Train Consistently - Increase Only When Ready


Training load is comprised of both training intensity and training volume. In other words, it is possible to acquire a similar training load (though non-similar training adaptations) by performing a low volume week with daily high intensity training or an Epic week focused on high training volume. Additionally, there are 2 forms of training load that are of practical interest: Acute Training Load, i.e. the level of training load that the athlete can do and Chronic Training Load, i.e. the level of training load that the athlete can do over the long term, or more practically, the level of training load that the athlete can absorb.

It was initially the research studies which validated the approach of proven coaches such as John Hellemans, who favor a consistent basic week repeated for 3-6 months with minimal variation or overload, by showing that the maximal performance benefit of a given training load is not reached before 6 months of consistent repetition. Similarly, athletes who monitor power in the field are discovering that their CTL number (indicative of fitness) will continue to improve with the same training load/level of fatigue (ATL) for 3-4 months or more (see below). However, a reminder that chronic training load isn’t about what you can do (as a ‘one off’). It is about what you can absorb.

In summary, the most important determinants of the effectiveness of a training program are:
1) Determining appropriate training intensity levels
2) Setting a realistic, achievable, long term chronic load that you know you can hit over a long period of time.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Monitor Fitness By What You Can DO

From Slowtwitch

Rich Strauss from comparing the measurement of bike fitness using wattage versus blood lactate testing:

There are other methods but what is important is that they are a measurement of what you can DO, not what your blood chemistry, gas exchange, whatever says is going inside your body. Think "I can bench 250 lb" vs "I breath into a tube/get my finger pricked while I'm on the bench. SmartGuy sez that at chemistry/gas marker X I have 250lb on the bar.

Do Speedwork To Maintain Musculature

From Matt Fitzgerald

..... endurance athletes should devote as much effort to developing their speed as they do to increasing their aerobic capacity. Older endurance athletes should perhaps work even harder at their speed than they do at their aerobic capacity. That’s because aging erodes speed more quickly. It does so by reducing the size, contractility and elasticity of muscle fibers and by slowing motor nerve impulse transmission. And in running, particularly, I think slowing is as much a matter of declining mobility as of declining strength and power. Do you see the way many older runners shuffle? That’s an effect of strength, speed, and mobility loss combined.

There’s an interesting study on the causes of aging-related running speed loss in the current edition of Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise. Finish researchers conducted a number of measurements, including ground reaction force and ground contact time measurements, ultrasonographic analysis of muscle structure characteristics, and maximal isometric force production measurements, on 77 competitive male sprinters between the ages of 17 and 82 years. They concluded, “Age-related slowing of maximum running speed was characterized by a decline in stride length and an increase in contact time along with a lower magnitude of [ground reaction forces]. The sprint-trained athletes demonstrated an age-related selective muscular atrophy and reduced force capacity that contributed to the deterioration in sprint running ability with age.”