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.”