The Ambitious Athlete’s Guide to Allocating Intensity

Part One gave you a framework for allocating training load and structuring your week.

In this section, I’m going to offer you a framework for how to allocate training intensity.



Strength and stamina (above) are used in the colloquial sense.

Exercise physiologists have been debating the definition of each for as long as I’ve been alive.

Don’t debate do!


Strength is relative.

  • to you
  • to the requirements of your sport
  • to your future self
  • to what can screw up tomorrow (we don’t see injuries avoided)

There are many different types of strength, and training approaches.

Try them all

and include the following in your strength definition:

  • Traditional – compound lifts, pulls, pushes, twists (thread to get you started)
  • Plyometric exercises (stress your connective tissues)
  • Balance & agility exercises (prepare to avoid falling)
  • Different movement patterns

For a long time (25+ years), I had a very simple strength program. This period included some speedy race results and worked just fine.

In my late-40s, I started skiing and wanted new input to protect my joints and prepare for the demands of mogul skiing.

I started using MtnTactical.com programs.

The “programer” is not aware of my background load:

  • I scale the sessions (downwards) to fit into my strength allocation for the week
  • I spread the sessions out to avoid too much load in a week

The benefit of using someone else’s program is variety. For me, the only way to make that happen is someone else designing the program.

Your personal tolerance for strength will vary over time. The 10% guideline is a minimum. Many athletes will tolerate, and benefit from, a greater emphasis on strength (particularly in the winter).

I score traditional strength at 1 TSS point per minute and plyometric/work capacity sessions at 2 TSS points per minute. These scores include rest periods.

When resting between work sets, do mobility work!


So that leaves us with Endurance Training

  • 80% Stamina
  • 6% Tempo
  • 3% Threshold
  • 1% VO2 & VO2+

I titled this piece with intent.

The Ambitious Athlete’s Guide

I am assuming you truly want to see what’s possible with regard to endurance sport.

I’m assuming you want long term gains rather than whatever payoff you’re receiving from your current approach.

To see what’s possible, you’re going to have to overcome certain aspects of your Human Operating System and past habits.

One of these aspects is what I call “training like an age grouper” => instead of the 9% allocation to Tempo/Threshold we often have a burning desire to get that number closer to 90%!

Tempo/Threshold is what we expect exercise to feel like. Our breathing rate is up, we’re sweating, the work rate is high… we think it’s more beneficial.

Well, it is and it isn’t.

The ability to benefit from “work rate” training is linked to our capacity to do, and recover from, work.

Stamina is our endurance capacity over time and fully developing this capacity takes years.

My article on A Swedish Approach to Athletic Excellence says more, including when it makes sense to decrease the total Stamina allocation.


Stamina Allocations

Within the 80%, let recovery guide your allocation between Zones 1 & 2.

From Part One, when you’re having unplanned misses, assume…

  1. Your training zones are set too high
  2. Your loading days are too big
  3. You have too many loading days

If you can’t tolerate 80% of your week in Zone 1 and Zone 2 then:

  • Your zones are wrong – check LT1 via lactate (blog to come)
  • Your allocation to Zone 1 needs to increase – too much Zone 2
  • Your weekly hours need to decrease – load ramp too steep
  • You need to reduce total stress to accommodate training stress

It’s usually a mix of the above, with spontaneous intensity additions, that tip us over the edge.

Suck it up, slow down, and build some stamina.

This protocol was the foundation for taking myself:

  • from a 60-minute standalone 10K
  • to winning Ultraman Hawaii
  • to a 2:46 Ironman marathon

Bookmark this post, when injuries and setbacks get you down, come back to it.

This is the way.

The Serious Athlete’s Guide To Building A Training Week

This article started with a Twitter Thread last Friday.

In that thread I explained how to:

  1. Build a habit of doing
  2. Add balanced training
  3. Instead of adding training stress, focus on removing poor choices
  4. Start collecting data
  5. Stay the course – the first 1,000 days is the beginning of your journey

#1 puts you ahead of nearly everyone

#5 can lead you to the top


To build your week, you need to know what you’re trying to achieve.

What is the One Thing you are trying to achieve?

  1. Win Ironman Canada
  2. Go sub-9 in an Ironman
  3. Lose weight
  4. Qualify for World Champs
  5. Break 3-hours for an off-the-bike marathon
  6. Break 54-minutes for an Ironman swim
  7. Finish an Ironman before dark
  8. Regain my freedom action on long days in the mountains
  9. Support outstanding mogul skiing
  10. Prepare for an Alaskan mountaineering expedition

The above have all been goals.

Each goal, required a different approach to creating my week.

Do you know your goal?

Write it down!

By writing your goal, you are (even) further ahead of the pack.

Most people either have too many goals, or no goals at all.

One goal, done right, will be plenty!


You are going to be constantly tempted to deviate from your goal.

If you find you lack the ability to stay focused then use sport to train your ability to not-react.


Let’s pull it together:

  • Daily action towards One Thing
  • Written down
  • Removal of distractions
  • Removal of poor choices
  • Building a habit of not-reaction

No matter the results… daily action, via negativa, capacity to not react

You are on a winning path


Let’s dig into the training week, itself.

There are four types of days:

  • Recovery – off from exercise, focused on life
  • Easy – light activity to promote recovery
  • Maintenance – training at your normal level of activity
  • Loading – training above your normal level, designed to create a specific adaptation

Recovery – weekly, I use two recovery days (back-to-back) to re-establish my positive trend and maintain stability in my non-training life

  • Work calls
  • Interviews
  • Shopping
  • Cleaning
  • Long mobility session
  • Connection with my spouse
  • Connect with two friends
  • Help my spouse in a visible manner

The two recovery days are a mental reset, leaving me keen to get back to training.

These days have no training stress, but are important days in my life.

By keeping my non-training life in order, tending my relationships and obligations, I am able to lower the total stress in my life.

Lower Total Stress = Faster Training Adaptations


What makes a “loading day”?

Since the company was founded, I have been using a website called Training Peaks. What follows is a framework used on that site.

The framework isn’t perfect, but it’s very useful. The foundation of the framework is to derive a stress score for each session done by an athlete.

Training Stress Score – a way to quantify training load – called TSS

Easiest way to think about it

  • Best effort for an hour scores 100 points (5th gear)
  • Threshold effort 85 points per hour (4th gear)
  • Tempo effort 75 points per hour (3rd gear)
  • Steady effort 65 points per hour (2nd gear)
  • Easy effort 50 points per hour (1st gear)

If you think in Fahrenheit then you probably won’t be that far off.

Exercise scientists spend their lives debating the different gears, the transitions between the gears and the best gear to use for where you want to take yourself.

It matters, and it doesn’t matter.

Why?

Because most people never stay focused long enough for their protocol to limit their performance.

What you need is a simple way to keep yourself from over-doing-it.

TSS works for this task.

++

Each day, I push my workouts up to TrainingPeaks and a TSS score is generated for the day.

My Chronic Training Load (CTL) is my average daily score for the last six weeks.

CTL is a proxy for fitness – it’s what you’ve actually managed to do for the last six weeks.

TIP: the speed your CTL increases is called your “load ramp” – a common error for athletes is too quick a load ramp.

++

CTL should be fairly stable – if it is not then look deeper.

Do you have unplanned misses? injuries? illnesses?

Your mind will try to wrap a story around the misses.

Don’t worry about why.

Instead, assume:

  1. Your training zones are set too high
  2. Your loading days are too big
  3. You have too many loading days

Two loading days each week, a stable CTL, a life that’s under control…

Gives you plenty to work with.

++

In the TP world, “fatigue” is measured by Acute Training Load, ATL. This is your average score for the last week (7 days).

If we take your CTL (fitness) and subtract your ATL (fatigue) then we can see how “fresh” you are. TP calls this your “form.”

Each athlete will have a personal tolerance for how negative they can take their form.

When you get “too tired” have a look at your “form” score and see how negative it was before you tipped over the edge.

We ALL make mistakes – the framework gives you a way to see if there is a pattern to your loading mistakes.


How it comes together – Blue Shaded is CTL, Red line is Acute Load and Yellow Line is Form – this table is called the Performance Management Chart
I’ve been working my CTL upwards so my form has been negative in the last 28 days

If it the above seems too much then you can simplify your approach!

Use HRV4Training and taking a morning HR measurement. Marco’s app will help you decide if it is a good day to load, recover, or rest.

Green light (load), Yellow light (maintenance or easy), Red light (recovery).

For now, I don’t recommend other company “readiness metrics” – they don’t work, yet.


To show how the week comes together, let’s dig into a case study – my current situation

My CTL is ~75 points.

  • Easy day – 25-50 points (below CTL)
  • Maintenance day – 75 points (around CTL)
  • Loading day – 150 points (2x CTL)

The key error here is one you’ve heard before…

Keep your easy days easy

In order to give yourself capacity to absorb your Loading Days, you need to recover from them!

This means you need to limit:

  • Number of loading days in a week
  • The size of the loading day, relative to CTL (your “average” day)

Many athletes load themselves into the ground, go stale, recover, then repeat the cycle, perhaps with injury/illness for variety!

This pattern will leave you undertrained because you are doing too much training.

More Tips:

  • When I was younger, I tolerated bigger Loading Days – start with two days a week at 2x CTL
  • The game with CTL is to gradually build sustainable load – that’s a superior game to seeing how hard you can smash yourself every single weekend.
  • CTL will seem like a long game to you. Six weeks is NOTHING – barely enough time to create an overuse injury.
  • 1,000 days is the shortest cycle you should be thinking about. Amateur athletes should be thinking on an Olympic Cycle – 2 years base building, 1 year performance-focused, 1 year health-focused – repeat forever!
  • The majority of your load should be Moderate Domain aerobic load (Zone 1 and Zone 2). This is very different to what you will think you need. You are going to be battling your urge to “go hard” and self-sabotage.

Training Peaks helps make mistakes visible – it’s up to you to address your mistakes.


Now we are ready to discuss the week, itself.

Similar to the Big Picture, write down what you are trying to achieve. From my week just past:

  • Elevation change run
  • Hill sprints
  • Bike long ride (2,000kj)

Those were specific workouts I wanted to include.

Why?

  • Something important I didn’t do last week
  • Something I want to add
  • Correcting an error from prior week (2,800kj was too much)

All the other sessions stay the same: (a) endurance training focus; and (b) strength sessions.

The Basic Week might look like:

  • D1 Bike, Run, Swim
  • D2 Bike, Strength
  • D3 Longer Day
  • D4 Bike, Swim
  • D5 Bike, Run

The size of the sessions (the load) depends on my metrics.

I know I am going to train each morning (other than my recovery mornings).

What I don’t know is “how much” load I am going to give myself.

  • I prioritize bike load because it’s the safest way to train my metabolic fitness (my One Thing).
  • Running is frequency based – “just run easy”
  • Swimming is short sessions when I have loading capacity
  • Strength is maintenance level, I’m strong relative to my stamina

As a coach, I have a loading hierarchy for each athlete.

TIP: write down your loading hierarchy – it will help you allocate your time.

Here’s my current hierarchy, it changes across the year:

  1. Ride every day, load when metrics are green
  2. Run as often as tolerated
  3. Get an elevation change run every 14 days
  4. Strength at least once a week
  5. Short swims for active recovery and to make it safer to ramp load, later

I do a ten minute HRV4Biofeedback session every evening before bed. It’s a 10 minute session that gives me a look into how much my day took out of me.

I have a 10 minute daily minimum for my mobility work – this has been transformative.


Take your time figuring everything out.

You win by staying in the game.

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

Raising Young Olympians

Great chat with Johan this week.

Long term athletic development => LTAD


Kid Johan – where it all started

Let’s start with Johan’s background

  • 1981 born
  • 1994 watches the Olympics and wants to get there!
  • Starts to specialize for Speed Skating (13 yo)
  • 2000 Jr World Champion
  • 2001 Defends 5000m Jr World Title
  • 2002 / 2006 / 2010 Three Consecutive Swedish Olympic Teams

There are themes that repeat in the LTAD literature.

  • From 7-10 yo the local parents set up a “sports school.” One day a week, they’d have a couple hours and try different activities
  • Very active childhood, but no early specialization, Johan’s skate focus started ~13 yo
  • Continued to play organized soccer/tennis, and lots of spontaneous ball sports, through his mid-teens. His skating coach supported all general training and encouraged him to continue
  • Ran, cycled, raced Swedish Nationals (road race)
  • Grew up in a small city, 125,000 population at present

Surprising to me, Johan didn’t come from a Skate Family.

His Dad was a Regional Class soccer player. As the family grew, his father’s focus shifted from his own sports to being a soccer and bandy coach for kids. He continued to run and race 1-2x per year. Johan’s mom was artistic and both parents worked full-time through this childhood.

His entry to the sport of speed skating was via a local club that handled training, talent development and races.

VERY independent in approach – the local club organized bus trips to race in the Netherlands and Germany in his Tweens, without parents, staying with locals.

Johan was the key driver in getting himself to a very high level. The Swedish Club system and local coaching infrastructure gave him the opportunity to train himself to a world class level.

Johan on Twitter and his coaching page on Facebook.


Johan today

Johan, and I, are very interested in helping our kids excel at sport. It was the #1 topic for our call. 

0-2 years old: we are a swim family, our babies all started out very comfortable in the water. If you want your kids to swim then, ideally, continue their natural-born comfort via positive experiences in the water, from birth.


2-6 years old

  • Movement skills via gymnastics – we didn’t progress into pre-team, very basic balance, agility and movement for all our kids
  • Swimming – a swim lesson, once a week, every week – from a coach, who wasn’t us.
  • Soccer Tots – from preschool age, coordination, bit of running, general play
  • Preschool – three years, play-based preschool where they learned skills to get along with other kids – early socialization in a play-based environment

7-12 years old

  • Just like Johan, lots of different sports: Thai Boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Indoor Climbing, Swimming, Soccer, Hiking, Running, Downhill Skiing, Uphill Skiing, Water Polo, Indoor Skiing
  • Some sports come-and-go, continue at least once per week swimming lesson.
  • Family policy is “do something” – we are willing to change what they do each season.
  • Lots of activity – competition mostly absent

In this phase, build self-confidence. 

Two examples are indoor climbing and skiing. Both sports involve: movement skills, problem solving, fear management and young kids can be better than many adults. Huge confidence boosters for our crew.

No judges, no scoring, we SHARE athletic experiences with our kids.


Little Johan in full flight

Race Experience

Something a little different. 

Summer Swim League from a very early age (5 yo) for each of our kids.

  • Intense 10 week summer season where they swim M-F and have a dual meet on Saturday
  • Touch the water ~80 days across their summer holiday
  • Finals event with 100s of kids, gives them big venue experience
  • Positive early race experience by winning ribbons at the dual meets, and eventually medals at the Finals event

Teen Years – like Johan, specialize if THEY want. 

Our only policy is that everyone does something, including us.

Our oldest is a swim specialist and soon-to-be 14 yo. She still does extracurricular cross-country running, track and skiing. Her summer swim focus, continues since 5 yo.


We only have negative-control

In other words, we can screw things up, but we cannot make it happen.

What makes it happen?

  • Positive experiences
  • Wide range of movement skills
  • An environment to excel – access to skilled coaches and motivated teammates
  • The child’s, and eventually the teen’s, inherent drive

It’s a long road to the top!


Final questions => be brutally honest with yourself…

What do I want for my kids, and why do I want it? 

A lifelong enjoyment of daily exercise NOT a self-identity wrapped up in winning!

Am I seeking to compete, or win, through them?

I want to enjoy nature alongside them. Many parents care far too much about results.

Understand my values & biases

We try to keep our kids, and ourselves, grounded by exposure to a WIDE range of field strengths. There is a benefit from getting our butts kicked every so often.

As parents, we are mostly positively reinforcing.

We offer immediate, negative feedback (and event venue removal) when we witness poor sportsmanship. We’ve left sports when we didn’t like the peers.

Keep Small Promises

July in Boulder

I did the Rich Roll Podcast this past week (not out yet, I’ll let you know).

We started the podcast with…

My story is proof we all have hidden skills, paths we never see, never take.

I wasn’t setting Summer Swim League records as a kid, I didn’t walk-on to the Stanford Swim Team. I thought I was an average athlete. Turned out, I was an Ultraman Champion.

Every single one of us has a skill, a path, that can dramatically improve our lives.

But we have to start.

That was followed by two-and-a-half hours of chatting!

To wrap up, Rich asked me to give him one last tip. I thought a bit and came up with…

Keep small promises to yourself.

Everything I’ve achieved comes from the credibility I’ve established with myself.

When I started my journey, I had no idea where it would take me.


My elite athletic career dates back to a single choice in 1993 (24 yo).

I was living in London and decided to go for a walk.

One walk led to two.

Soon I was bike commuting to work.

Eventually, I was hiking longer on the weekends.

Years later, I made the decision to do “something everyday.”

Many choices, many years.


Roll forward, ~30 years, I have two promises I’m working on:

  1. Try to help someone online via Twitter
  2. Give it my best shot to get back in outstanding aerobic shape

Both done daily, on a 1,000-day time horizon.

I have no destination in mind.

I’m going to do the work, pace myself, and see what happens.


#1 came from calling my bluff with some feelings of envy I had.

#2 came because my life is more enjoyable with superior aerobic fitness.


Where do you need to face your fears and go for it?

What one thing, if it happened, would change everything?

Start small, give it 1,000 days.

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

Dynamic Loading via Daily Readiness Assessments

Quite a mouthful, that title.

Put simply, I have been adjusting my daily plan based on my morning metrics.

This article will explain those metrics => overnight, morning and active.

For a guy, who used to plan his workouts 7-10 days in advance and his season 13-20 weeks in advance… this is a radical change!

Lots of lingo in this article – Marco’s articles are a big help.


My Readiness Dashboard – explained below

OVERNIGHT via Oura Ring

The overnight assessment is the easiest. I keep my Oura ring charged and download first thing. The ring was helpful getting my health back on track at the end of 2021.

However, for making the decision if I’m ready to absorb load, the overnight reading is not as accurate as my morning test.

I don’t recommend the ring to you. I think you’ll get more useful information using the next two options.


MORNING via Polar H10 Strap and HRV4Training App

My morning ritual:

  • Wake up (no alarm)
  • Head downstairs
  • Drain bladder
  • Relax on my couch (supine) with my pulse oximeter going
  • Take reading via HR strap to HRV4Training app.

The whole process takes ~5 minutes.

If you pay for the PRO level (HRV app), then normal ranges are calculated and shown with baseline (below).


HRV with trend and normal range – you can pinch to show more days

Morning Resting HR with trend and normal range.
COVID recovery was May 25 – June 11

Overnight and Morning are passive metrics – I’m either asleep or lying down. There are good reasons for passive assessments (see Marco’s articles linked at the end).

My advice, start collecting the morning metrics and learn your healthy baseline.

These baseline metrics were a big part of my being able to return to training relatively quickly after catching COVID (link is my day by day return diary).


My active readiness test is based on an Olympic Champion’s warm-up routine.

The 400w segments are done only in Threshold & Specific Preparation
More in Nils’ Document Linked Below

SWEDISH ACTIVE READINESS TEST (SART)

I have been working with an Olympic Coach, Johan Röjler. Johan had the idea for me to perform a daily assessment based on NVDP’s warm-up.

My bike numbers are FAR below Nils’ level. However, the principles are the same.

  • Six minute steps
  • Start at 50% of “fit” Threshold watts
  • End at 65% of “fit” Threshold watts

Nils did his Threshold at 400 watts. At 53, I picked 300w.

The key isn’t the Threshold number.

What’s important is getting a 50%/65% number that is NOT demanding. You want to have a test you can get through at every level of fitness and fatigue.

I’m using 3 steps (150w/165w/180w). Power via Favero Assioma Duos and total test takes ~20 minutes. Johan is testing himself with a run-based protocol.

We are looking for heart rate suppression and “jumpiness.”

  • Day One of the training cycle – we expect HR to be responsive and jumpy following the 2 off days
  • Across the micro cycle – we expect some HR suppression BUT when there is material suppression, combined with other factors (mood, HRV, MRHR, soreness, energy) we gauge the risk/benefit for loading

The chart shows two cycles – one where I pulled the plug after three days, and the other where I pushed through fatigue (D2 & D4) and finished strong.

The SART is a nice warm up. My total output is 200 kj and no matter how wrecked I am (see June 22 & 23 above) – the test is doable.


With Passive Metrics (HRV, MRHR), the Red & Strong Green days are obvious.

What’s less clear is the signal for the Yellow and Weak Green days. Yellow and Weak Green days are where I make most of my mistakes.

Our hypothesis is fatigue (not-readiness) will manifest via heart rate suppression at submax levels.

By learning my normal response to training, I can decide if I’m in a “better to rest” or “train through” situation. The idea being to back off when my body isn’t in a position to absorb more load.

My readiness metrics, when combined with my training log, let me see the sessions that most kick my butt.

  • Are those sessions “worth it”?
  • Could there be a more effective way of loading?

These are judgement calls and part of the art of loading.

Overall => make mistakes visible, and learn from them.


LINKS

The 20K Track Session


The WARM UP for this session is my favorite part.

Most athletes would be best served by doing the “warm-up” – the aerobic benchmarking – then hit the trails for a relaxed hour of running.

When I did this workout, I’d run a 2:51 marathon (off the bike) ten weeks earlier at Ironman New Zealand. My LT1 numbers were creeping ever closer to LT2… Scott Molina wanted to give my run training more “headroom.” Scott was right.

What would I do differently? Test lactate: baseline, LT1, LT1+10bpm and end of every 2nd 800. The La- data would have give pace/HR more context.

If you read to the end then you’ll see we were thinking about “the next trip” – Clas and I never got that done.

When YOU get the chance to take the “trip of a lifetime,” I hope you take it.

Take your shot.



gRAAM – Trans USA Day Sixty-One
aiken, south carolina

Wasn’t sure how this workout was going to go. I was feeling pretty good for most of yesterday. Had a false start at one school and also had to negotiate with the facilities manager mid-session. Went like this…

FM – Ya’all CAN’T be here!
B (rippin’ it) – Talk to him, I’m running.
G – I’ll be right there, sir.

FM – Eye, got signs everywhere. No Tress-passin’
G – Well, that big sign says open to the public.
FM – Eye, don’t care what that sign says, I put up them other signs yisterday. We be sprayin the grass tamarra!

G – Oh sorry about that. That gate over there was open.
FM – That was the mower man. Told him to leave it open last night.
G – We didn’t want to cause any problems.

FM – You ain’t from ‘round here, are ya?
G – Nope, we’re from Canada.
FM – That’s a long way. Just passin’ through, eh?
G – Yep, riding to Hilton Head tomorrow.
FM – Well, ah guess it’s OK. Just head out that same gate. Ya looked liked ya needed a break anyhow. See ya.

My session went like this..

Concrete Track
Low 80s, moderate to high humidity, light to moderate winds
Two Miles Easy
Two Miles AeT, 3:51/3:55/3:57 — avgs 141/142/143
Three K AeT+10, 3:46/3:46/3:46 — avgs 151/152/153
Four Strides

<<<June 2022 NOTE – the warm-up ends here>>>

8×800/200 — hr is ending
1-4 & 7/8 2:43H (157,161,163, 167 & 163, 167)
5 — 2:45, 169
6 — 2:47, 171

Not sure why I popped the HR on 5/6. It was pretty hot, maybe I was dehydrated RI was mid 50s to around a minute on the 200, HR might have got a little under 150 but not all the time

2:44 is 34 min 10K pace, I think. Pretty solid aerobic numbers. Morning weight was 78KG. You know, I am aerobically faster and more powerful than I’ve ever been. I know that light is useful but it can’t be the whole story. Baron thinks that I am lighter than I think I am (not sure what that means, it’s the same scale as last summer).

A little bit about why I like this session so much.

First up, I need at least a mile to warm my legs up. During big IM training, it can take a 30 min spin plus the two miles for me to get rolling. Even though I was shelled a couple of days ago, I was pretty fresh (on my standards) for this session.

The warm-up is 10.6K including the strides (and their RI). It lets me check in on my key metrics of AeT Pace (steady state) and AeT+10 Pace (what I like to call max steady state). It also gives me a big dose of running that is at (or above) IM pace/effort. It does it in a way than supports and enhances my run endurance, cardiac capacity, and leg turnover. Also, if I have an inability to get to LT then that is a clear indicator of a substantial training fatigue.

I’ve been doing this session (in various forms) for over a year – I two years ago, I used to do Yasso 800s at a much faster pace but now feel that protocol is sub-optimal for IM (too fast, not enough volume, too stressful). The numbers above represent my best yet performance for this workout.

While a variation of this workout is useful. When I review most athlete’s training performance vis-à-vis their workout performance, they would simply be best riding more and doing the 10K warm-up section as a week day aerobic test set. Why? Because most folks are running IM so far from their AeT pace that their true limiter lies in steady state bike fitness. So they are simply getting themselves tired for no benefit if they did the main set above.

The track also provides a good opportunity to experiment a bit with cadence and body position – quick light cadence, controlled speed, relaxed speed, long spine, tall balanced athlete.

I’m glad that I have some sea-level data to benchmark against my Boulder numbers.

+++++

Ironspeed

We threw the Baron on the track this morning. I was a little nervous because he’s a real racehorse and you never know what will happen on the track. However, it was a unique chance for us to get some data when he’s heading into a race.

15 min easy
30 min goal IM Pace
15 min goal IM effort
5 min bring it a little over LT
10 min easy

AeT Pace (140) = 3:40 per K, 5:54 per mile
Max Steady State (150) = 3:33 per K, 5:40 per mile
Total session was a Half Marathon run in 1:18:40, 145 avg

+++++

We said good bye to Ben today – like Barry, he found the track session challenging. Muscular fatigue possibly combining with the beginnings of a sore throat made it tough for him to elevate his HR. I’ll let him tell his story but I will give him _respect_ for making it the whole way!

Well done, Amigo.

I’ve extended an invitation to him to come out to Boulder and hang for a bit. Maybe he’ll come out for more action. He reciprocated with an invite to hang at the spacious Casa del Travis during the September Hell Camp.

+++++

After we dropped Ben at the airport. Baron and I headed to the pool. We each had our own lane in a VERY fine 50m pool – Augusta Aquatic Center if you ever get to town. Very nice, $4 for a swim.

LCM with sleeveless wetsuit
400 easy every 4th back
4×100 on 1:30 (1:25 to 1:20)
4×50 on 1:00 (40 to 32)
20×100 on 1:40 (first 10 avg 1:19, second 10 avg 1:17/18 – all three stroke breathing)
450 easy (booted out due to lightning)

No lightning rod on the roof so we were evicted part way through the final 1K steady finale!

+++++

B.D.Gae

Buh-duh-gay! What’s buh-duh-gay? Baron drills gordo across Europe. Even when nuked, I’ve been enjoying this trip. My life might not always be “fun” but it’s certainly rewarding.

At first, we were thinking about Rome to Mockfjärd but that seemed like a long way and I’ve been to Northern Germany in April (wet!).

Next year is Baron’s Zofingen focus year so I was thinking that some climbing might make sense. Also, this trip started getting a bit ‘old’ around eight weeks so, perhaps, that’s a decent length for an extended tour.

So right now, we are considering Gordo’s Latin Extravaganza – start with a swim in the Atlantic (Portugal or Spain) and then rip every major Southern European Mountain Range. Skip the camping and go the pensionne route, perhaps.

I’ve done some riding in the Alpes Maritimes in May before – that would be nice. We could also do Epic France recon and bag most the grand tour climbs (Spain, France, Italy).

Just an idea, for now.

+++++

Final Thoughts

Not much left to go. Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.

Had a little bit of Krishnamurti run through my head over the last few days. “We can never be deceived if we don’t want anything.” So true, whenever I feel deceived then I try to look to what I was seeking to possess in the situation.

Shaka,
g

Late Season Peaking

A favorite shot – spend time in places with natural energy!

Throwing it back to the ride across across the US, again.

Early summer…

  • the GIRO just ended…
  • the Tour is coming up…
  • it’s lush and green outside…
  • the Sub 7/Sub 8 project just finished…
  • you’ve been base training like a champ…
  • you’re reading NVDP’s manifesto

It’s natural to want to smash yourself.


Rear View of Clas from SwimRun training mentioned last week

I wrote this in Memphis, the ride into town was the greatest tailwind, and scariest bridge crossing of my life!

What I call “tempo” is now known as the Heavy Domain.

The names have changed, the training errors remain.

Then, and now, athletes hinder their development by capping their aerobic gains.

++

I’ll share the “20K Track Workout” (mentioned below) next Saturday – it’s a great set that will surface useful data for you, and your athletes.

Big Picture => my advice (then and now)… repeat the week, for a while… only then will we have the basis for a conversation.


Old school navigation – we avoided cities as much as possible

gRAAM – Trans USA Day Forty-Seven
memphis, tennessee

Reviewed my track sessions I appear to be well ahead of last year. This is pretty exciting because I did ZERO track work over the winter.

Anyhow, Scott and I have another moderate session planned for next week and then we’ll do my standard (20K) “track” workout to see where I am at. That will be about a week and a half out from Triple T. Should be a good indicator for me.

Baron says that there’s no way that I am ten pounds over race weight. He thinks it’s more like six.

We said good-bye to Barry this morning. Over the next couple of days, I expect that he’ll pull his thoughts together on the experience for InsideTri.Com – should make interesting reading. We threw everything we could at him and he just kept bouncing back. Fourteen days of monster training is really the furthest that I’d recommend anyone goes so it was probably for the best that he headed back to Oregon – even if it would have been nice to have him along.

Season Pacing & Race Preparation

Some of you might be getting fired up reading about these entries. I’d urge caution on trying to mimic the training that the Baron and I are laying down. To be honest, we are a little surprised ourselves that we are surviving. Yesterday, I wrote this to one of my crew that frequently does big day training and is aiming for a late season peak.

Patience — it’s a long season so don’t extend yourself “way out” in May. Keep it rolling, keep it fun, keep it large but… keep it reasonable (for us at least).

Tempo — aerobic tempo is a waste of time for you, me and everyone. When you leave your steady zone you need a reason to be out of there. Big Gear, Strength Hills, Race, TT — probably the only reason for Tempo bike and run work. Otherwise you are having fun going fast but simply making yourself more tired — not more fit.

Weeks — No more than 12-14 “on days” without a 3-5 day recovery cycle. Even with that you should have 2-3 easy days in the on-cycle. Otherwise you won’t get the recovery that you need to bounce back from the outstanding training you are laying down.

Also yesterday, I sat down with Steve (our Little Rock host) and talked through my thoughts on the training that he needed for his first Half IM at the end of the summer. Key points that might be relevant to you:

Basic Week – build a basic week that is “doable” within your life and agreeable to your wife (husband).

Consistency – repeat the basic week for 15 weeks.

Key Workouts – plan a sane progression of volume for your key sessions.

Intensity – insert blocks of steady into your longer workouts. Learn _even_ endurance workout pacing.

Swim Goal – get comfortable with swimming 1.2 miles without using a lot of energy. What you do is far less important than simply swimming 3x per week every single week for 15 weeks.

Bike Goal – build your long ride up to six hours to train your body’s aerobic system.

Run Goal – stay healthy, run 90 minutes once a week, run off the bike for time management and consistency. Slow down and aim for a consistent period of pain-free running.

Focus – ignore all the various ideas and tips that everyone throws your way. Repeat Your Week. Repeat Your Week. Once you finish the race, you’ll have some data and will know more about whether you enjoy training and racing long.

Sammy came up with a great term that I’d like to share with you. No doubt the sports scientists will beg to differ but (deep down) I kinda get a kick out of their attempts to save the world from it’s own ignorance.

Lactate Bruising – the dead legged feeling from smacking out the intensity early in a TT, race or workout.

I’ve often noticed that any sustained periods over LT will have a big negative impact on late workout or race performance. That’s with my own training. For Racing Long, I’ve extended that observation to “take some time to give a REALISTIC assessment of your average race intensity for the whole day. Bear in mind that your medium of movement becomes less dense as your day progresses. So, you’d better have a clear reason for exceeding average race intensity, especially in the first third of your day.”

ITM Riding

Baron does a pretty good gordo-imitation. Get him to show it to you some time. He’s especially good at imitating my run form and when I’ve had a lot of coffee.

The conditions today are what Baron calls “I’m The Man” riding. We had favourable tailwinds and he was content to let me set the pace all day. So I get fired up on cola and Dr. Pepper – sit up front, ride 40-43 KM/h and go…

Hi! I’m gordo…
I’m _THE MAN_…
I’m going lower…
I need a 58…
I feel GREAT!…
And on…
And on…

And I laugh out loud and sing along to my MP3 player.

Baron does a good imitation of that. Makes me smile. Unless my back’s locked up – which hasn’t happened for a while.

Andy From Memphis

Andy rode out into a MONSTER headwind to meet us. He’s also set us up with his wireless network, a couple of spare beds and a sweet pad! An excellent set-up and very much appreciated by the crew.

There won’t be a State Line photo for entering Tennessee. If you’ve ever driven the I-40 bridge into town then you’ll understand our reluctance to stop…

A – You wanna stop?
G – Dude, it’s hammer time – get me out of here!

Top Three scary situations for the trip.

Didn’t run

Swim was SCY and courtesy of Steve’s club (one heck of a nice guy)
200 fr, 200 alt by 50 bk/br, 200 IM, 200 easy, 50 kick/100 fr/50 kick
15×150 fr on two mins arriving on 1:55
100 easy
4×100 IM on 1:40 arriving on 1:30
5×200 on 2:50 arriving on 2:40

Ride was 250K over about 6.5 hours of ride time. Flat, hot and humid – we were grateful to have Lance ride us out of Little Rock to make sure that we got on our way.

That’s all for now.
g-man