Sunday Summary 21 August 2022

Top Threads

  1. Developing Teen Running Talent
    1. Workout idea from Rich
  2. Fitness enabling a feeling of freedom
  3. Burning lactate strips in an attempt to prove I can go harder
  4. Johan’s advice to stay focused on what makes you better
  5. A benefit of developing low-end aerobic range

Workouts & Working Out

High-Performance Habits

Sunday Summary 10 July 2022

Top Threads

  1. Keeping Small Promises is my foundation for excellence
  2. Raising Young Olympians talking LTAD with Johan
  3. Training Through Fatigue can limit LT gains
  4. Book Review: Practice of Groundedness by Brad Stulberg
  5. Easy Days on the Swedish 5:2

Workouts & Working Out

High-Performance Habits

Q2 2022 Top Twitter Threads by Engagement

  1. Building the capacity for One Big Slow Day
  2. Review of Longevity… Simplified
  3. Training Zone Lingo
  4. Effective Nutrition
  5. Remove One Thing
  6. Before Swimming Harder Try This
  7. Getting Mentors Interested 
  8. My Home Gym
  9. Late-Season Peaking & The Need To Do
  10. Zone 2 is Light
  11. Training Nutrition Thread
  12. Where to Spend
  13. Sub-max Benchmarking with Power

Sunday Summary 19 June 2022

Top Five Threads

  1. The 1st step is EASY
  2. Bike Session (30/30s and Power Singles)
  3. When you feel you are behind financially
  4. Give your Self something useful to Prove Right
  5. I’m back on Strava // Post_COVID week summary

High Performance Habits

Workouts & Working Out

A Swedish Approach to Athletic Excellence

Link to YouTube

I’ll link my prior writing on NVDP at the end of this piece.

NVDP had a childhood dream of being a great athlete, I had a childhood experience of being a horrible athlete.

Proving right, proving wrong…

Childhood experiences can be powerful motivators!

What’s YOUR motivation? Why start this journey?

My answer “I was born to train.”

Tapping into core motivation enables sustained work.


  • As a coach…
  • As a parent…
  • As a child athlete…
  • As a collegiate athlete…
  • As a world junior champion…

What’s it going to take?

Nils & Johan explain the performance puzzle:

  • The Project: a multiyear journey to the top
  • The Work: a LONG apprenticeship
  • The Block: a multi-month period of increasingly specific focus
  • The Session: one session, repeated, involving the specific requirements of the goal

Project : Work : Block : Session

Nils & Johan speak clearly about these four aspects. Can you?

In order to bring laser focus to the Block and the Session, one needs both: (a) a deep reservoir of aerobic fitness; and (b) plenty of mojo.

Keep the Work phase enjoyable and don’t sweat the pace/power. Base training is about kilojoules. Kilojoules by any means necessary.

The Block phase lasts ~17 weeks – NVDP uses Swedish 5:2 loading implying (at most) 85 days “on” and (at least) 34 days “off”.

Across each Olympic Cycle, there are “85” days that are special. The other days are foundational & recovery.

Intense internal focus => at times, never for long.


Even for Superman, life mostly happens outside the arena

Some nuggets in the podcast:

Threshold Block:

  • early-week longer intervals set the work-rate across the week – recovery is added to preserve a good enough work rate – when work rate cannot be hit, recover
  • seek to gather TIME “fast enough” rather than progressing targets – key attitude for error prevention

Coaching expertise can help quantify “good enough.” NVDP carves most everything else away.

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Repeat The Week:

  • NVDP knows key sessions, by DAY, inside his 5:2 week
  • There is an early week expectation, and a late week expectation
  • Higher work-rates not always better – experience with bicarb letting him train “beyond the limit” forcing additional recovery the next week – [For me: a reminder to respect natural limits.]

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The Bike: I suspect we will see more athletes using supplemental cycling for fitness (metabolic, aerobic, threshold) – this would work for both running and swimming – if you are a “large” runner or a swimmer with limited access to pool time… then the bike seems life a useful supplement to your plan.

People are going to figure this out. Might you be one of the people? Athletes lead the process.

Clinicians: before you add “running”… keep the “walking” and add “cycling.”

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Always watching has a cost.

As NVDP says in the Manifesto… “There is a cost of everything.”

How much of my watching is making my team faster?

Might constant monitoring of The Work be creating a net-negative cost?

There will be times when you need to trust yourself and resist the urge to count.


In our own lives:

  • Project – where do I want to take myself?
  • Work – a long period of enjoying what it takes, with ample recovery
  • Block – 2-4 month focus-periods, every 3-4 years, intense focus, ample recovery
  • Session – what one thing, if you get right, will change everything?

The above approach, with buy in from your family, is VERY sustainable!


Prior NVDP Material


The Flowchart of My Project

The Work is #1 and I’ll be there for a long while.

Sunday Summary 24 April 2022

G – Literally Just listened to your catalyst podcast – excellent!!!!  Wow, truly good – thank you for putting that out there.  I took 8 pages of notes and I have already read your writing for decades


Family Wealth

High Performance Case Studies

Workouts

Getting Back To Cycling

From days gone by => Sunshine Beach, QLD, Australia. Married, no kids, scared of Queensland traffic!

Yesterday was 60 days in a row of riding and I wanted to jot down some notes.

The last time I got back in bike shape I was in my early-40s with only one kid and no lockdown restrictions.

Times have changed!


Another blast from the past => as an elite athlete, physiological testing helped me get the most out of my training. This one was during blood lactate testing in NZ.

At the start of May, I’d been locked down since March 13th and was injured from my run program. Early in our lockdown, my wife ordered a Peloton spin bike. I decided to try it out.

May 8th was my first ride. I immediately enjoyed the format – music with no cars. I also liked the fact that my public health authority couldn’t take away my ability to ride indoors!

It’s been a fun progression:

  • May 13th => 20-minute best effort ride (222w, 152 bpm)
  • June 25th, held 221w for 75 minutes at 137bpm
  • 1st week of July held 230w for an hour at 139bpm

I’m at ~3 watts per kilo in my “peppy aerobic zone” – that’s good enough. I’m pleased how it worked out.


A proud moment from my athletic career. Being hung on the Wall of Fame in Dr John Hellemans office. There are a lot of VERY good athletes on that wall! John cared enough to teach an arrogant, but passionate, stranger about exercise physiology and coaching. I learned so much from him.

Here’s my training protocol, you don’t need a Peloton. You do need a bike, a trainer, a heart rate monitor and a power meter.

Ride twice most days, mainly endurance. First ride is done before my kids wake up. I enjoy a cup of coffee then get rolling.

Endurance ride => the basic Peloton format…

  • Three song warm-up
    • Song 1 just spin, build cadence and power into Zone 2/Steady
    • Song 2 insert 4×30 seconds, spin-ups (cadence ~110 rpm) with power not more than Zone 3/Mod-hard
    • Song 3 split in half – Zone 2, Zone 3
  • Endurance set, alternate by song Zone 3 / Zone 2 => 20-45 minutes based on time available.
  • Spin your HR under 100bpm when you’re done

That session is the bulk of my bike training, it works great and will continue to work great. Even more important, I’m having fun.

You can see everything I do on Strava => weights/strength/hills and a lot of “low” HR endurance.

If you go the Peloton route then they have an intro to power module (here’s their power FAQ).


Friday the 13th, March 2009, Kitt Peak, Ajo Highway, Arizona => 40 years old, one of the first times I can remember stopping (mid climb) to take a picture!

Bonus tips:

  • The target power zone sets the MINIMUM for your workout target – put a floor on work – if you can’t hit your endurance zones, or if your HR pops, then your zones are set too high. Upward zone creep is common across all ability levels!
  • Heart rate zone sets the MAXIMUM for your workout – put a ceiling on stress – once warmed up, I give myself permission to push the watts up a bit, so long as my HR stays in my target zone. When I consistently generate higher level power, on lower level HR, I know it’s time to retest my zones.
  • Climbing/Big Gear workouts are a great way to rack up Threshold Watts (Z4) at Mod-Hard Heart Rates (Z3). Example here.
  • My toughest workouts are crisscross sessions – about an hour a week – warm-up and power is going over/under FTP with recoveries in Zone 3/Mod-Hard. Example here.
  • Traditional Spin Classes are done for variety, as a pep rally and to build quickness/cadence. Quickness is key as we age. This skill was tough when I started – it came back fast.
  • Being able to use Peloton to create a “proper” program was a surprise – I thought it was all spin classes and high intensity. Guess I am a bit out of date.
  • The 20-minute benchmarking test is a “nice” session in itself – kinda hurts at the end. You don’t need, or want, to be doing much truly tough stuff in 2020. There are many better places for you to put your energy.
  • Peloton has world class coaches – Alex Toussaint leaves me feeling cheerful every_single_time I do one of his classes. Throughout lockdown, I was laughing out loud with his classes. Laughter is good medicine.
  • Lift weights – moving your power zones up won’t improve your life. Getting stronger will improve your life.

A fun memory => at the end of a 12-day training camp in the Rockies, we did a handicapped TT up Mt Evans (28-mile climb that tops out above 14,000 feet). We adjusted times based on rider/bike weight. Someone noticed I was pounding fluids at the back of the line and we had to redo the weigh-in! This is my buddy Clas, he was training for Zofingen Duathlon so running 2x per day as well as all the cycling we did (over 100,000 feet of vertical). Needless to say, his legs were less than snappy. It was the only time in my life when I could beat him in a sprint!

Clas and me, later, riding into the clouds! The top 14 miles of the climb are closed to traffic this summer. If you ride then pack top/bottom shell and a very warm jacket. Also beware of the dreaded downhill-bonk!

Some specific thoughts on intensity.

  • When you’re training with power, you can track total work measured in kilojoules (KJ). If you’re a time-limited athlete (running home school, working, cleaning your house…) then KJs are worth noting.
  • You’ll quickly see that highly intense workouts have a poor KJ-to-Fatigue ratio. You get a lot of fatigue without much work being done.
  • You might think intensity is a good deal. It’s not. It’s an awful deal because highly intense workouts are stressful and stress makes you eat / crave sugar. Bad deal all around => you can easily gain fat while exercising often and feeling tired. Lose-Lose.
  • The Win-Win is a cardio program that adds energy to your overall life and helps guide your body composition, an endurance-based program.
  • Once your endurance is well established 6-18 months, it only takes a bit of tough stuff to get your numbers to bounce.
  • Your overall program needs to keep you under your sugar threshold. Cravings, and bingeing, are signs of depletion and excess stress.

Aim for a protocol you can do every day for 15 weeks.

Challenge yourself to eliminate the habits that screw up tomorrow’s training.

Keep it simple and repeat the week.

Aging Athletes on the Kokopelli Trail

FullSizeRender 2I spent early October riding the Kokopelli Trail in Utah.

I enjoyed the trip more than I expected and want to share ideas to increase your athletic satisfaction as you move into, and beyond, middle age.

High performance is not about health, but long-term athletic satisfaction is most certainly correlated to health, strength and mobility.

As a cohort, our group of 40 to 60 year olds was the healthiest population that I have ever trained alongside. I am using health in a classical context – body, mind and spirit.

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Here in Boulder, I see many friends “age-down” their training partners, seeking younger and younger peers. Heck, we even race our kids as soon as they are fast enough to give us a push.

If you feel compelled to hang onto your youthful performances then be sure to try the opposite, at least some of the time. Age up your pals, teach children and be kind to beginners. Pay close attention to how this makes you feel.

As one of the the “youngsters” on the trip, I learned a lot from listening to the veteran athletes talk about their lives.

+++

Usually, a training camp involves a 5:30am alarm, wolfing down a breakfast, training all day, eating two massive dinners and sweating myself to sleep. Repeat for six to ten days.

Dropping into a guiding company that was celebrating 25 years of trips, I realized how little I knew about what (normal) people want.

On the first morning, the guides had a chuckle when I arrived in the lobby with my helmet, shoes and full riding kit. It was POURING rain and they gently broke it to me that we weren’t riding for a while.

2015-10-05 11.32.21This pattern, of gently breaking it to me, would continue for the week. Eventually, I capitulated and decided to (attempt to) be a model guest.

+++

I was surprised by the aspects of the trip that I enjoyed the most — the relaxed mornings and evenings.

I commented to a friend, “This trip is a good workout spread across a great day.”

2015-10-09 08.18.50Bottomless coffee and massive fruit salads in the mornings. As Wes-the-guide can attest, there is something truly satisfying about eating out of a mixing bowl.

FullSizeRender 3Casual dinners and beers around the campfire in the evenings. Our guides taking a well-earned break after a 13-hour day taking care of us.

FullSizeRender 5Stunning camping venues. Wine and cheese at a remote desert campsite.

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I should remember that the health, strength and mobility required to enjoy unique experiences in nature is FAR less than what’s required to train alongside high-performance athletes that are half my age.

FullSizeRender 6

Old habits die hard.

I’m changing slowly.

Family Cycling

2015-09-04 08.22.00Here is the link to my last piece about cycling with babies and preschoolers – also the Endurance Corner article about Active Parents.

Roll forward 18 months and the kids are aged 7, 4 and 3. The four year old just transitioned from a strider and the three year old is comfortable on her strider as well as a three-wheeled scooter. I wouldn’t have expected some of the changes.

One of my rules-of-thumb is to consider selling anything that I don’t use for a year. So, I sold my racing bikes, race wheels, powermeters and Garmins. When I need a road bike, I rent a top-of the line model. Considering maintenance, upgrades and airline fees – a net savings of more than $1,000 annually for the family.

2015-09-10 16.03.31I spent $5,000 and bought a haul-a-day and a family tandem from Bike Friday. My main bike is a 29er and the 20-inch wheels on the Friday bikes were an adjustment. Disc brakes and front/rear flashing lights with both bikes. Flat pedals for me and shoe cages for my daughter on the tandem.
2015-08-27 18.41.29Most the cost (above) was in the tandem but it’s a game changer for exercising with my oldest. She loves it and we’re up to 20 mile rides. If I remove a second row seat in my Sienna then it fits inside my van and we did several trips this summer. Now that school is back in session, we use it as a commuter to/from her climbing.

When I got the cargo bike, I expected to be able to sell our second car (my Sienna van) as well as our double bike trailer. It’s not going to happen.

Turns out that the second car was useful, it’s now the sitter’s car. The adjustment to not having a car of my own left me a little grumpy. I went so far as to price out what a third car would cost the family. When I calculated the costs associated with a new car, a third car and my existing car… it got a whole lot easier to adjust my life. My effective savings are $5 per city-mile not driven. Human powered whenever possible and treat Uber like a free service.

The cargo bike gets the kids up high and in the air. They love it… when it’s warm. I have kept the trailer for cold and wet mornings, when I bundle up and take one for the team.

2015-09-04 08.11.37SAFETY – it turns out that I don’t enjoy riding on city roads with my kids on their own bikes! This shouldn’t have surprised me (but it did) because I was a nervous boyfriend when Monica and I would train together. The kids and I prefer bike paths, even if they double our travel time.

We didn’t go electric as I have the horsepower (just) to get a hundred extra pounds up the local hills. If you aren’t a strong cyclist then consider front-wheel power assist for the cargo bike.

Managing My Endurance Passion

G-BoraRecent media reports have linked “extreme” exercise to shortened lifespan (versus moderate exercisers). There is not an agreed definition of what constitutes extreme but, even at my current noncompetitive level of activity, I qualify.

My endurance pals have responded like Charlton Heston at an NRA rally.

If you want me to change then you can pry my fitbit from my cold, dead hands…

Ultradistance athletes are the true believers of endurance sport (links to classic book).

Many of us have replaced a previous passion, sometimes a negative addiction, with endurance sport.

Some of us are managing our “bad habits” via exercise.

All of us are terrified about the implications of change. Listen to our thoughts about anyone with a normal BMI.

Having watched friends revert to previous lifestyles, and having no desire to make a return myself (!), I thought I’d offer some practical ideas for managing our passion.

As always, I start by asking myself questions:

  • Where can things go wrong?
  • Is a multi-decade strategy to continually rip the legs of my aging competition wise?
  • What’s the minimum change required for maximum harm reduction?

Hands down, the worst thing that can happen to any aging athlete is losing the ability to train. Physically, strength losses are slow to return. Mentally, we are prone to depression via inactivity.

I’d be willing to compromise quite a bit to protect my ability to keep on trucking!

You are not going to get a lot of lifestyle modification by telling me that “strenuous” exercise isn’t good for me.

Not going to happen!

You see, I know how I was living without exercise in my life.

You might get me to change a little by pointing out the risk of:

  1. Dying via bike crash
  2. Orthopedic damage
  3. Concussion risk
  4. General malaise from soreness and fatigue

In fact, you didn’t have to bring it up. I see it all around me and have modified my lifestyle to take the above into account.

  • Highway riding avoidance
  • Adding front/rear lights for improved visibility
  • Rarely train in a group
  • No more bike racing
  • Main bike is full-suspension mountain bike

These small changes have improved my risk profile but I have ignored them when training for an event that required them, and when spending time with friends that could care less.

So, like any behavioral modification, my changes are only as sticky as my ability to choose wisely with peers and events.

I’ve written about low standard deviation training HERE and HERE.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • Aim to train every AM and PM
  • Workout defined as leaving my house
  • Focus on frequency (AM/PM), not duration, not load
  • Wide variation in effort, from walking to max
  • Lots of hills
  • Don’t measure (other than a weekly weight check)

I end up with 11-14 doses per week and remain inside the “extreme” segment of recent physiological studies.

I’d estimate my current plan at 30% less hours, 60% less load and 90% less fatigue/soreness.

I exercise a lot, but less than I used to. I suspect the taper will continue as I age.

The small changes have improved my risk profile and increased the non-competitive benefits I receive from exercise (mood, motivation, creativity, sex drive).

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I don’t expect you to change…

…but this is an alternative that reduces the chance you might have to shut down your endurance passion

…or end up replacing it with a prior negative addiction!

In times of injury, stress, divorce, despair… I hope you will remember this article.

Exercise has been a very good friend to my family.