Racing Fastest Using The Principle of Bottom-Up Endurance


Today, I am going to touch on a favorite topic.

Getting Tired The Right Way

“Right” meaning the way that directly benefits race performance, or builds the capacity to do the training required for race performance

Let’s start at the beginning.

++

Ability To Move

You’ve signed up for a race. How long is it going to take you?

  1. Have ever stood for the duration of your goal event?
  2. Have you ever moved for the duration?
  3. Based on last month, how many days does it take you to train the equivalent of your goal event?
  • Take your training time from last month
  • Convert to HH:MM per day
  • Compare it to race day

Consider The Gap between Average Daily Load and Likely Race Duration

The wider the gap, the lower your training intensity will need to be.

The initial focus: skills, strength and building the capacity to move.



Above is a long weekend from in November, ~10.5 hours of volume across three days.

  • If my race was 1-4 hours long then I’d be ticking the box on “ability to move”.
  • If my race was 10+ hours long then I’d want to avoid all choices that result in less volume being done in my week.

When you are pushing duration, you will need to back off the pace.

++

How You Can Address The Gap

Extend by Compressing => patiently build the capacity to fit your event into fewer days.

Triathletes, look at total time (& distance) by sport. The multiple, or fraction, of race distance completed each week gives valuable insight into the humility you must display with race pacing.

Runners, your job is easier, look at weekly mileage and remember ALL mileage counts (walk, hike, run, you name it).

Everyone, judge your fitness by what happens after you load.

When you push duration, how long does it take you to return to normal training?

The depth of your fitness will be determined by your ability to back-it-up following your key endurance days.


Ability To Do Work

The weekend after the block (above), I did the equivalent of a Half Ironman (below)



These two days were not done at race pace.

Race Simulation workouts would have been too costly to my overall week. I would have needed too much recovery.

Step Two: after you have proven “Ability to Move” move on to “Ability to Do Work”.

What I was seeking was placing the work-equivalent of my goal event into a single day, or 24-hour period.

My long “workout” is actually a series of workouts, intervals, meals… spread across a period of time.

Then I rest, do easy training, absorb and return to my normal training week.

Over time, my ability to do work will improve.

If it doesn’t then I need to see what is preventing improvement (below).

How can we train the ability to do work?

  1. Time at Aerobic Threshold / Baseline Lactate
  2. Get your nutrition sorted
  • No Hacks
  • No Short Cuts
  • No Easy Way

You gotta put in the hours.


Work Rate Training

Years later, it’s time to think about the specific demands of your event.

Step Three is training to perform and that’s a topic for another day.



The more time you give yourself to prepare, the faster you will be in your racing.


Linked Resources

4 Tactics To Prepare for Half Marathon and Half Ironman Racing, While Staying Healthy and Enjoying Pain Free Running


It’s been 22 weeks since my return to running (chart above)

I’ll walk you through my data and give you some benchmarks to consider with regard to your own training.


My 7-week average is 23km per week (chart below)



I’m tolerating 3 hours per day on my loading days and managed a broken Half Ironman over a weekend in November.



The two areas where I have been most conservative:

  1. Intensity – nearly everything is easy/steady (30-60 beats below max heart rate). I wasn’t tolerating my sprints/bounding so dropped them.
  2. Duration – my longest main set is 12km/7.5M

Right now, the longest I could see myself racing is ~5 miles / ~8 km

I’m not going to race => why take a risk of screwing up my progression.

The “just stay healthy” plan has been working.


Four things have kept me healthy

1// No back-to-back runs

  • With the exception of my Broken Half Ironman Workout (Sat AM / Sun PM runs), I have avoided running on back to back days
  • I let soreness be my guide, if I need more recovery then I take it

++

2// Eccentric (Pre)Hab

The program I put together for my posterior chain was fun to do.

Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver the results I wanted – a pain free increase in run load.

So I changed the plan.

Simple plan – get eccentric load into the areas troubling me

  • Two Exercises (Prone Leg Curl, Seated Calf Raise)
  • Two Sets of 10 reps per side, each exercise
  • The moment pattern is “Up with Two, Down with One”
  • Full range of motion


  • When I go to the pool (non-running day) I do the exercises.
  • It takes 12 minutes, done 2-3x per week.
  • Relief happened from the FIRST session.
  • It’s not necessary to progress the weight.

++

3// Habit of Daily Mobility

Since my first run, I have scored 150/154 (days) with my mobility habit.

It works.

It is simple.



++

4// Build Stamina on the Bike

Since July, I’ve been riding ~8 hours per week



With my 5:2 loading, the 8 hours breaks down as 4 rides a week of 3/2/2/1 hours duration.

Cycling has benefits for runners:

  • I can train duration without impact stress – faster recovery from ‘long’ sessions
  • I have an “easy” zone on the bike – I’m only starting to develop this ability with my running
  • I can keep training when I’m recovering from a run session

Extend duration, low-end intensity control and greater total endurance load

What does this mean in practice?

  • Since July, I have completed more than 50 bike workouts >=2 hours
  • Compared to my longest running main set => 60 minutes, done once

I can prepare myself for a race that’s much longer than my current run workouts.

++

Linked Resources

  1. A Return to Pain-Free Running
  2. The Serious Athlete’s Guide To Building A Training Week
  3. Bomber Calves & Hamstring Protocol
  4. A Swedish Approach to Athletic Excellence
  5. Supplemental Videos on My YouTube Channel
  6. I create my charts and track load over at Training Peaks

Sunday Summary 27 November 2022

Top Five Threads

  1. How to write a book – rough draft is toughest part
  2. Best Starter Bike Thread
  3. Video on Intensity Zones & Domains
  4. When metrics decline, Trust The Process
  5. Active Readiness (with Brad & original thread & metrics video)

Endurance Training Tips

High Performance Habits

Human OS and Endurance Athletes


Jim O’Shaughnessy is a favorite follow and introduced me to Human OS.

Human OS is our default operating system. After birth, our OS is reinforced by our parents, communities and environment.

It wasn’t until I started training _very_ seriously that I became aware of my default programming.

Athletic stress is a low-stakes method to surface our default settings.

Amateur sport has lower emotional, and financial, stakes than our families, and careers. It is an effective venue for self-improvement.

Awareness is the first step… I’ll share certain traits you might want to notice.

Once you see these in your sport, look for them in your driving (another training ground for elite emotional control), at the office or around the Thanksgiving table.

There is no “right” answer.

What’s useful is understanding our tendencies then allocating time to train against preference.

The goal being to remain emotionally stable as stress ramps up.

The benefit being the capacity to think clearly under duress.

++

Hills

A hill pushes against you.

What do you do?

Do you have the capacity to anticipate the hill? Shift to an easier great, or shorten your stride, in advance of your heart rate spiking?

Step outside your sport.

Life pushes you.

What do you do?

Start with hills, it’s easier.

+

Where do you place most of your energy?

At the bottom, middle, or top of the hill?

I’m a “top of the hill” rider – I want my power to be highest when air speed is lowest.

I want to optimize overall time and avoid the pain of regret.

My son is a “bottom of the hill” rider – he likes the challenge of hanging on.

My son wants to win. He is likely to regret not giving maximum early effort.

We can learn from each other.

++

Weather

My kids love bad weather racing.

Why?

Because they’ve learned it hurts the competition more.

How do you deal with weather?

Surprisingly simple to retrain our attitudes here.

++

Pacing

  • What’s the fastest part of your interval, set and workout?
  • What’s the slowest?
  • How does your profile compare to other people?
  • How often do you train against your preference?

Understanding the slowest part of an event, then training to be fast in that segment, will give you an edge in your racing.

Understanding our own tendencies makes it more challenging for others to exploit them.

Some mantras that have helped

  • Stay in the game
  • Always finish strong
  • Speed up, before slowing down
  • Quit later
  • Never get in the van
  • Be the brand

++

Feel

Do you have the capacity to feel speed?

  • The air against your body, the water against your skin, the pressure of the pedals…
  • Breathing rate, muscular tension, heart beats, lactate…

There’s a feeling to all of the above.

How about seeing speed? How fast you’re moving.

With the gizmos available to us, it’s easy to lose the ability to choose how we’re feeling.

Feelings, our response to stimulus and stress, are highly trainable.

Take charge of your ability to decide how you’re doing.

Being excessively data-focused can drain mojo, without benefit.

Be more than your data.

++

Setbacks

How often do you get sick, injured or have a setback?

A pattern of setbacks will have more to do with your approach than fate.

A simple ‘trick’ here.

Build your circle with coaches, partners and mentors with different blind spots than you.

Consider looking outside your agegroup, gender and sport.

++

  • What do you ‘talk” about when you get home?
  • Ever re-read your training diaries?
  • Your journal?
  • Where’s your mind focused when you’re not exercising?

Relentless positivity is not common.

++

Personal Narrative

This one’s important

What’s the story you tell yourself about exercise?

  1. Born to train
  2. It’s work
  3. So I can eat more
  4. Just get through it
  5. Because I need to lose weight
  6. I’m an Olympic champion
  7. Because I will gain weight if I do less
  8. Because…
  9. Because…

Really listen to yourself here.

Why?

No matter your story, you will act to prove yourself right.

All my stories have proven false.

Most of my stories were useful.

Know your story.

7 Questions to Accelerate Your Fitness


Got the Qs from Dickie


What is something most people think is important that I can skip entirely?

Most of the debate between exercise experts occurs with respect to the Severe Domain, high intensity exercise.

Energy spent entering this debate is WASTED.

Why?

As a new athlete, it’s 1% of your training load.

Focus on:

If you need some Pep in Your Program then do a race, ideally a short one.


What is something important to your daily routine you wish you started earlier?

  1. Heart Rate Variability – we are CLUELESS with respect to our baseline stress
  2. Early to rise – the last two hours of the day are the least productive
  3. Always sober – reality is enough for me
  4. Train first thing – one positive step, daily

What channels led to the building of your highest quality relationships?

I’ve lived an open life and shared my experience online. This attracted a wide range of interesting people, and opportunities.

One aspect of my coaching business was training camps. These camps were not vacations. They were created to put athletes in high stress situations.

The shared suffering of the camps generated enduring, high quality friendships.

Here’s the filter… shared philosophy on life, willing to travel to learn, not an asshole under duress.


What is something you did differently from your peers but served you in the long run?

I defined “enough.” When I hit my number at 30 yo, I left Private Equity.

At 42 yo, I was at the top of AG racing. I made a decision to shift from fame to family.


What can I expect to struggle with along the way?

Setbacks are salient. Gains are slow.

Write your wins down, daily.

Before we had Strava, I used to post my weekly training summary on my website.

We build our lives brick-by-brick.

Persist.


What is something you had to unlearn to take the next step?

Soft Skills – harmony enhances every aspect of performance

Recovery – loading is the easy part


What is something you had to learn the hard way?

There is more grey in the world than I realized.

  • Do your work, and stand back
  • Let other people:
    • be wrong
    • have the last word
    • live their lives as they see fit
  • Yield – we’ve already won

Linked In This Article:

Three Tips For How Much Exercise You Should Target


I got a lot of things right during my elite career.

Optimized loading was not one of them!

++

Let’s start with the purpose of load, paraphrased from √ėyvind Sandbakk,

A good enough disruption in physiology that can be repeated over long time horizons

As a returning athlete, most my errors come from targeting too large a disruption

…that delays my ability to repeat (and hopefully progress) the disruption.

++

How do we tip the scales in our favor?

One: Know YOUR Sustainable Average

  • Not where you want to be.
  • Not what a friend is doing.
  • Not what was suggested on the internet
  • Not the biggest week you ever survived

On my first call with an athlete:

  1. What did you get done last month?
  2. What was your average volume last winter?

That’s your HIGH and LOW range for sustainable volume.

It’s much easier to move up the bottom of the range.

Remove the causes of “missing tomorrow.”

++

Two: Know What Tips YOU Over The Edge

We each have a level of load that causes our lives to gradually fall apart.

Make errors visible and pay attention to what tips you over.

10% less can have you feeling 100% better.

++

Three: Know Your Minimum Effective Dose

My current minimums:

  • Swim 2000 meters
  • Bike 60 minutes
  • Run 5 km

Not in a row, by the way.

Get those done 3x a week, add a strength session.

I’ll be just fine until life settles down.

++

Bottom-Up Fitness

  1. Use minimums to bring average load up
  2. Avoid long gaps in your favorite sports
  3. Focus on removing the choices that screw up tomorrow

Compounding Drives Returns

Sunday Summary 23 October 2022

Top Threads

Endurance Training Tips

High-Performance Habits

The Psychology of Training After 45

Dan & Ron – a couple of my favorite veteran athletes

I’m more than halfway along my journey from 45 to 60.

The biggest change is the reduction in my total pool of energy.

To cope, I’ve been open to changing my approach:

  • Adding: mobility work, heart rate variability metrics, additional easy days
  • Removing: alcohol, caffeine, travel, driving

Have the changes worked?

Honestly, tough to say!

It’s a paradox… less overall energy provides motivation to make changes in the hope of getting some energy back!

The other big motivator is fear.

Fear of:

  • Decline in sexual function
  • Decline in muscle mass
  • Increase in body fat
  • Getting “slow”

Let’s dig in a little.

Somewhere between 2000 and 2022, I convinced myself that coffee was giving me energy. When I tested that assumption, it proved false.

I continue to have false beliefs – I’m on the hunt for them.

++

Sex Drive

One of the best ways to measure if we are coping with our total stress load.

Not just training load.

Sex drive captures the total package of stress in our life as well as health status.

++

Muscle Mass

One way to resist “looking old” is to get jacked.

One way to resist “feeling old” is to get strong.

Strength training works.

Thing is, doing it well, requires quite a bit of energy.

How best to optimize?

My choice has been to use multi-year cycles.

Get strong once a year and get _really_ strong every 5 years.

When I swing too far towards strength training, my endurance suffers and that has a negative impact on my quality of life.

My approach ends up being a pendulum, between strength and endurance.

++

Fat

Here’s the hazard – a fear of fat, can turn into an obsession with body weight.

As we drive body weight downwards, we can create a negative spiral of losing muscle mass and, eventually, strength.

It takes years for this process to play out.

Personally, I was to be strong for as long as possible.

Strong like Ron!

++

Few years back. Ron broke the course record in the 65-69. Finished 2nd

Slowing Down

The reality => less overall energy, means less training load, means less training response

We’re going to slow down.

When we let our fear drive our training selection, we can make matters worse.

  • Too much high intensity (Zn 5, Severe & Extreme Domains)
  • Too much sustained intensity (Zn 3 & 4, Heavy Domain)

Use expensive training with intent.

Specifically, as we age, avoid strategies with a high risk of injury.

Why?

Injury, and the associated gap in training, results in a step-down in function.

Not gradual and, increasingly, challenging to build back.


Ron stuck with it, took an hour (!) out of 70-74 AG record and won in 2007

What’s the prescription?

Keep fear out of the driver’s seat.

Pay attention to natural signals – mood and sex drive are important metrics.

Balance working towards a “fit future” with enjoying the present.

Feel superb, frequently.

Enjoy the ride.

Sunday Summary 16 October 2022

Top Threads

  1. Fast After 50 – Ironman
  2. Team “Feel The Byrn” in Sweden next June
  3. How to review an Ironman Bike File
  4. How to Qualify for Kona
  5. How to review an Ironman – more next Tuesday on Twitter

Endurance Sport Tips

High Performance Habits

Racing A Fast Ironman After Fifty

Found this in the archives – memories of a very good day
5th Ironman in 14 months, October 2000

With Ironman Hawaii last weekend, there is a treasure trove of data waiting to be mined.

I took a look through my speedy friends’ activities to see what I could learn.

I started with a summary of January to October weekly averages.


16.25 hours a week, every week, for decades

The first thing I noticed is they do a lot of exercise!

That said, it’s not as much as I expected. The implied range is 12-22 hours a week. When I was a speedy 40-something, my range was 18-28 hours per week.

So perhaps this is a “stay good” level of training – these guys are already at the top.


What can you, and I, learn from these athletes?

Think about a Basic Week and forget about the pace that you’re going.

  • Three swims
  • Three runs
  • Bike leads metabolic fitness improvement
  • Strength work to address personal limiters and injury risks
  • Mobility – 10′ minimum every single day

My Rx for you, and me, would be 5 months of that program (November to March).

That might seem like a lot but ~300 aerobic hours is a drop in the bucket compared to the lifetime mileage of top endurance athletes.


What a best-case scenario looks like in Kona.
Showing the vibe I want to the bring to my training, and racing, going forward.

How fast are these guys?

I started by pulling up the marathon splits of the Best-of-the-Vets in Kona.

  • Mens 50-54 ran 3:15 to 3:40
  • Mens 55-59 ran 3:25 to 4:00

Not as fast as expected, except for the handful of sub-3:20 tropical marathons.

I headed over to the Boston Marathon site to have a look.

  • Mens 50-54 was 2:30-2:45
  • Mens 55-59 was 2:40-2:55

Still really quick, and my pals remain quick over shorter durations


Implications for me, and you.

Best in class race pace is ~8 minutes per mile, ~5 minutes per km

Right now, fresh, I can run that 30 bpm under max, 15 bpm under threshold – I’ve been running for five months, it’s reasonable to expect some improvement.

The best Ironman athletes (50+) in the world aren’t running much faster than 8 min mile pace – takes a lot of pace pressure off my run sessions.

Might do the same for you…

…and that would give you energy to place elsewhere in your program

…or recover faster

…or do something else!

That’s enough for today, more to come