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

Sunday Summary 20 November 2022

My YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/@feelthebyrn

Top Threads

  1. Using sheet metal screws for a frozen XC course, worked well
  2. Accelerating Your Fitness
  3. Aerobic Threshold Resources
  4. Does Your Endurance Training Stabilize
  5. My Aging Athlete Hypothesis

Endurance Training Tips

High-Performance Habits

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:

Sunday Summary 13 November 2022

Top Threads

Endurance Training Tips

High Performance Habits

Sunday Summary 9 October 2022

Top Threads

  1. Training Update (Managing Fatigue & Coach Engagement)
  2. Data on 50+ at Ironman Hawaii, my speedy pals
  3. Zone 2 isn’t slow, bottom-up fitness
  4. Raising Fit Kids, blog & video tomorrow
  5. Athletes Overestimate Training Load Required for Health

Endurance Training Tips

High Performance Habits

Sunday Summary 2 October 2022

Top Five Threads

  1. We train a range, not an average
  2. Do-less strategy worked for Middle School XC
  3. A Feeling of Running Out of Time
  4. 90-days without Caffeine
  5. Face-Your-Fear Session from Mark Allen

Endurance Sport

High-Performance Habits

How Self-Coached Athletes Can Use Lactate Testing To Work Smarter

The Lactate Thread on Twitter is my most widely shared content of 2022.

Keeping the ball rolling, I pulled together a presentation for you.

The theme of the presentation is faster gains from working smarter.

Working smarter gives you more energy…

  • to use for your higher intensity sessions
  • to recover faster
  • to put towards the rest of your program

There are four questions I address:

  1. What’s too easy?
  2. What’s too hard?
  3. Where’s my Easy Zone, 1?
  4. Where’s my Steady Zone, 2?


[1:25] Showing lactate turn point on a sample test

[3:08] Secondary Goals

[4:25] Requirements

EC Lab Protocols Document, referenced in video

[5:45] Before Starting – importance of hygiene and baseline <=1.5 mmol

[7:26] Self-Testing Protocol – submax testing (longer & smaller steps)

[9:19] Getting Great Data

[11:05] Bike Case Study

[14:58] Run Case Study & Considerations for Fasted Testing


Remember, lactate is one of several tools to guide smart training.

Smart Training is:

  • Approximately correct – precision is an illusion
  • Learning from inevitable errors – change slowly
  • Persisting over time – consistency as protocol

I hope this presentation helps you to iterate towards better.


Additional Resources:

  1. The Serious Athlete’s Guide to Building A Training Week
  2. The Ambitious Athlete’s Guide to Allocating Intensity
  3. Four Questions To Help Self-Coached Athletes Achieve Their Best Season Ever

The #1 Thing I Got Right As A New Athlete

I was very fortunate Scott Molina took an interest when I moved to New Zealand.
Not that he had much of a choice, I turned up at his garage (ready to ride) most mornings.
Scott has studied, and applied, what works for his entire life.

One of my favorite follows (Elias Lohtonen) was writing about the differences between Beginners and Elites. The context was metabolic fitness, as determined in his lab.

This got me thinking about my journey as a new athlete.

When I started out, I disliked intense training:

  • It crushed me
  • It hurt
  • I wasn’t very good at it

However, I thought I “needed it.”

Turns out I was lucky I didn’t bother with it for many years.

We now have a better idea why.

I’ll take you back 25 years.


Lactate As A Fuel Source, Not Waste Product

When I learned exercise physiology in the 1990s, lactic acid was presented as the athlete’s enemy – causing pain and slowing us down.

Difficult, searing training was believed necessary to teach our bodies to buffer and tolerate this acidic compound.

We used to think lactate would form crystals in our muscles, causing post-exercise muscle soreness. Hours, and days, later we would “flush the legs” to remove these waste products. We’d get massages to “break up the lactate.”

Turns out we were wrong.

Lactate is essential, and extremely useful, once we’ve trained our bodies to use it.

Roll forward to the present…

From an article written by Iñigo San Millán (Twitter Bio).

Lactate is also a key regulator of intermediary metabolism, regulating substrate utilization. It decreases and inhibits the breakdown of fat for energy purposes (lipolysis), as well as the rate of glucose utilization by cells (glucolysis).

The bold part is mine.

What does this mean for you?

Athletes who start fast, and perform “intense” endurance training impair their ability to burn fat

Every human I’ve ever met (!) wanted to burn more fat.

What are the implications for your training?

  • Slow your endurance sessions down.
  • Endurance training needs to feel light (link is to an article on “aerobic threshold feel”).
  • Endurance adaptations favor duration.

We all share a bias towards thinking that “more intense is better.”

Intensity is not better, it is different…

…and a key difference is you are burning less fat.


Additional resources:

1// Read the first article I linked : focus on training your slow twitch muscle fibers.

You already have plenty of capacity to generate lactate. If you want to improve performance (and burn more fat) then you need to focus primarily on the low-end.

2// Next up, Dr. San Millán’s paper on Metabolic Flexibility is a fascinating read on the differences between three groups: elite athletes, recreational athletes and individuals with metabolic syndrome.


From the article linked above

3// Overcoming our shared bias towards intensity : One of the way’s to retrain your mind is to focus on submax performance. At 53, I’m very interested in my paces, and powers, at 130 bpm. This is ~35 beats below max (the “top of”cap” in the table below, approximately).

4// How do you know what’s “intense enough?”

From Last Week’s Thread on Training Zones
The table is a good starting point, you can dial in more accurately using the resources in the thread

5// Finally, this thread contains my favorite lactate resources.


Have questions?

  • Go to Twitter
  • Search @feelthebyrn1 ‘your topic’
  • Reply into my thread on the topic
  • I’ll answer with my experience, or point you towards someone who knows better than me

Four Questions to Help Self-Coached Athletes Achieve Their Best Season Ever

Running to a podium finish at Ironman New Zealand

Each week I post my Training Review on Twitter.

My review is driven by four questions:

  1. What went right?
  2. Did I hit my minimums?
  3. Where can I trade stress?
  4. What can screw things up?

My questions track to actions:

  1. Keep
  2. Add
  3. Trade
  4. Remove and Address

Across the week, I take notes and when I take my back-to-back recovery days, I review the week.

++

What Went Right?

You are going to be tempted to “progress the week.”

Unfortunately, in highly motivated populations, this leads to breakdown, and missed gains!

Better to repeat the week & keep what works

++

Did I Hit My Minimums?

Last Thursday, I gave you a Training Intensity Allocation.

Let’s see what that implies for my last week: 15 hours total => 900 minutes

  1. Strength => 90 minutes
  2. Stamina => 720 minutes
  3. Intensity => 90 minutes
    1. Tempo => 54 Minutes
    2. Threshold => 27 minutes
    3. VO2 & VO2+ => 9 minutes

Is there a training segment that I’m avoiding?

Think outside the box, there are many interesting sessions that are hybrids of strength/intensity.

Use the small allocations wisely and have fun with them.

++

What Trades Make Sense?

First Two Tips:

  1. Repeat don’t progress
  2. Hit the minimums

If I want to ADD then do a TRADE.

Example #1: I like to run in the hills. However, I don’t need to run up a mountain every week! Across a week, a fortnight, a month… I manage my “elevation load” between weeks.

Example #2: I’m relatively strong for my age and category. I trade Strength load to accommodate more Stamina within my week.

Example #3: Max HR test last week? Add more Zone 1 to start the following week. Balance the intensity mixes across more than just the week. Give yourself time to fully absorb your highest intensity sessions. Same thing applies for sessions that cause significant muscle damage (plyometrics, downhill run load).

Example #4: get to the source of your life stress:

  • Sleep
  • Alcohol
  • Energy deficits
  • Spontaneous tempo
  • Over-reaction
  • Excessive load
  • Too many goals

If I want to better absorb training then reduce the stress caused by choices outside my core goals.

Endurance training, done to the best of our ability, offers an incentive to straighten out our lives.

++

Avoiding Ruin – What Might Screw Up Next Week?

In the acute sense… Avoid The Injury!

Take time to address the little niggles while they are still little!

Dial the program DOWN before the injury is created.

Trade low quality days for high quality weeks.

In the chronic sense… going down an unsustainable path feels great, ride up to the day before you fall apart!

Consider, then address, areas of instability:

  • Relationships
  • Sponsors
  • Finances
  • Emotions
  • Habits

How to make this happen?

Put it in your calendar!

Make an appointment with yourself, daily.

Example: 10 minutes every day on mobility and one positive action to reduce long term stress.

Little positive steps have big impacts when applied over long time horizons.


The ability to bring these habits into your athletic life gives you a skill set to improve all aspects of your life.

Sunday Summary 28 August 2022

Top Five

  1. Serious Athlete’s Guide to Building Your Training Week
  2. Legs up the wall, eccentric lowers to settle your hamstrings
  3. Heart Rate does not capture metabolic stress
  4. How to Shake Up Your Basic Week
  5. Swim Game coming September 11th – Get Back to Swimming
    1. I will ask you to do nearly everything bilaterally

Endurance Sport

High-Performance Habits