31 August 2007

Power Reserve


I hope that you enjoy this article -- this is a very interesting concept that Terry shared with me last year. He's taken to time to write up his thoughts, more fully, for us here.

You can contact Terry through his website, linked below.

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Terry Kerrigan and Dr. Philip Skiba

Introduction:

We should probably introduce ourselves, and let you know why we are writing this together. Terry is an Ironman pro, and is the CEO of Aperion For Life, Inc. He coaches and trains athletes across a number of sports, and brings substantial personal experience to the table. Dr. Philip “The Other Dr. Phil” Skiba specializes in sports medicine and exercise science with a focus on endurance athletes. He is the CEO of PhysFarm Training Systems. Though he coaches a small number of athletes, he primarily works as a consultant and advisor to elite and professional athletes around the world, helping to direct their coaches and trainers to design better programs. PhysFarm then uses the data gathered to design new technologies to better prepare athletes for competition.

Terry and Dr. Phil work as a tag team to train a small number of highly motivated athletes. Terry provides much of the practical advice and training progressions, while Dr. Phil provides the science, analysis, and direction. This approach has been very successful. For example, we work together on Joanna Zeiger’s training. She went from a string of tough races to 15th at the Edmonton ITU race, to 1st at Boulder Peak and 2nd at 5430 Long Course.

We are often asked about our coaching “style” or “approach.” We encourage our athletes to stop thinking in the generic wastebasket terms of “bottom-up” or “top-down” coaching. We treat each athlete as a unique individual with particular strengths and weaknesses to be exploited or improved. We believe in applying the art of coaching to the latest science to develop a logical, evidence-based strategy that yields results time after time.

The Concept of Power Reserve:
Before we can talk about the concept of “power reserve”, we should discuss a few definitions so that we are all on the same page.

Functional Threshold Power (FTP): Coined by Dr. Andrew Coggan, this is the best average power an athlete can maintain for an exercise task that takes about an hour. It is highly correlated to the Maximal Lactate Steady State, that is, the highest intensity of exercise an athlete can perform and still maintain a constant level of lactate in the blood, rather than a continual increase. It is primarily due to the metabolic fitness of the muscles, that is, the ability of the muscles to use fat for fuel, and spare carbohydrates (which are limited).

VO2max: The maximal amount of oxygen the athlete can use during exhaustive exercise. It is primarily due to the ability of the heart to deliver blood to working muscle, as well as the number of capillaries in the muscle. pVO2max refers to the power required to reach VO2max, and is usually quite close to the best average power an athlete can maintain for about 4 to 6 minutes.

Using these concepts, we can put together an organizational framework in our minds. If you think of your fitness as a house, imagine that the foundation of the house is your “base training” or perhaps more appropriately, your overall ability to tolerate specific Ironman training. Let’s think of your absolute best sprint power output is the peak of the roof, your VO2max as the attic, and your FTP as the ceiling. Your performance ability (race power) is equal to your height, and you mark your height on the wall as you grow. Make sense?

First things first: You need to train before you can train. What we mean by this is that you need a period of months to years of general training so that you have a foundation that can support the house. What you are doing is allowing your body to build the appropriate infrastructure to support everything you want to make it do. Put another way, as Dr. Andrew Coggan has pointed out: the more you train, the more you will be able to train. We don’t just go out and try to race an Ironman. We spend years training and racing shorter distances before moving up to the ultra distance stuff.

Once we have a solid foundation and are sure the place won’t collapse, we can move into the house and begin to “grow up.” By performing specific training, you begin to get taller. As you grow, your head gets closer and closer to the ceiling. Eventually, you need to raise the ceiling or you will bump your head, right? So, by training in certain ways, we can raise that ceiling. But now, you have another problem…your attic space is getting smaller. To make more space, you have to extend the attic higher. Yet, this eventually creates another problem…you can’t make the attic any taller than the roof. At some point, you need to raise the roof.

When we say “Power Reserve”, we are referring to your “headroom.” We are referring to the amount of power you have available to you above what you actually need to perform the way you would like in the race. Practically speaking, this Power Reserve also reflects an RPE reserve. When the roof, attic, and ceiling are high enough, you have plenty of headroom and you don’t feel cramped/stressed at your chosen race power. The goal of good coaching is to figure out the best way to improve your headroom.

For example: Let’s consider power requirement for a task vs. an athlete’s maximal capacity developed in training. The task is a 180k bike leg in about 4h30m: 68 kg athlete, good aero position, appropriate equipment. Let’s say it takes 265 watts to accomplish this task. How stressful this is, and how well the athlete will run afterwards, depends on their Power Reserve. In other words, if your maximal ability for 180k is 275 watts, and you rode 265 watts, you are going to be shelled and will likely run poorly. However, if your maximal ability for 180k is 290 watts, 265 watts will feel much less taxing.

There are both smart ways and a silly ways to generate that 265 watt average. You could constantly vary your power, or ride steady. Both mathematical modeling and practical experience indicates that your best bet is riding steady, with plenty of reserve, and minimizing your forays into ceiling / attic / roof territory. (However, you should also note that in very variable terrain, a more variable power approach is more appropriate.)

Developing Your Height vs. Developing Your Headroom

The important thing to remember is that the division of exercise efforts into “zones” is a purely artificial, man-made process. In other words, exercise is a continuum where riding done at FTP not only improves power at LT or MLSS, but also serves to improve pVO2max and fatigue resistance. Likewise, riding done at pVO2max will also serve to improve FTP. However, we think in terms of zones so that we train in a time efficient manner and can focus in on particular aspects of fitness.

Traditional training theory would have you believe that the area between LSD training and threshold training is essentially a “no-man’s land.” We have found that, at least in ultra-distance athletes, there is significant gold to be mined here. We have found that while the athlete’s headroom increases with more intense training, increasing the athlete’s height (90k to 180k race power) is best achieved by what we call directed LSD riding. In other words, the athlete does not simply ride long and slow. Rather, the athlete rides in a directed way with extended periods of time at a high LSD / low-end tempo pace. An increase of just 5-10% results in very significant gains in terms of Ironman race power over the long term.

Why Are We Talking About Power Instead of Heart Rate?

Exercise science tells us that (at least below VO2max) HR is the effect of, not the cause of performance ability. You select an exercise level, and your heart simply tries to meet the demand. For instance, we regularly witness HR variations in a range of +/- 15bpm at the exact same power output in Terry’s training! If we had followed a strict heart rate protocol, we would have likely over or under-trained him in a variety of training blocks and circumstances.

The problem is that HR is affected by all kinds of stresses, whether that’s deconditioning, exercise duration, temperature, hydration status, or psychological state. Too many athletes micro-manage HR as if it’s the cause for adaptation when in fact it’s a result of many ongoing changes both chronic and acute. A power meter tells you exactly how hard you are working at any given time, and allows you to very carefully monitor and distribute your effort over the course of a race to make sure you do not push too hard and blow up

The idea of gauging effort in this way is nothing new. For example, look at swimmers and runners: HR monitoring has not really infiltrated the highest levels of these sports. The best athletes have trained on the basis of pace / split times (in other words, power) and duration. The oft-cited Dr. Jack Daniels (and if you don’t own a copy of his book, turn off your computer, go buy it, and don’t read anything else until you finish it) has managed many elite and professional athletes on this basis. Power monitoring will allow you to monitor your training similarly on your bike.

Now, this does not mean that HR data is useless. However, to make it useful, you need to use in under very controlled conditions and keep the above caveats in mind. For instance, it is possible to look at the ratio of HR:Watts in a controlled (indoor and cooled) environment. This is a bit beyond what we can cover in this rather general article, but the point is that there is a place for HR monitoring…just not what most athletes and coaches think it is.

As A Practical Matter, How Do I Apply These Concepts?

This is purely a coaching question, and will be different for every athlete. However, we can give you some general guidelines about our approach to athletes.

1. Know what system you are training.
Set up appropriate zones a la those developed by Dr. Coggan. You can look around on the Internet for a .PDF he authored on the subject, or pick up the book he co-authored, “Training and Racing with a Power Meter”. Dr. Skiba’s book “Scientific Training for Triathletes” also has a short primer on this.

2. Build your foundation.

“Base Training” isn’t (or rather, shouldn’t) be about just going long and slow. LSD training is important in this context, but you must always address the other systems: Anaerobic capacity (<1-2>20 minute power) to optimally prepare your body for everything you will ask of it later. Pure LSD training to the exclusion of all else prepares you to go long and slow. Is that how you want to race? We refer to LSD as Long Smart Distance Adaptation, very specific power per energy system and progressing the duration.

3. Go short and fast before you go long and fast.
This is also known as “reverse periodization” or “raise the left, fill the right”. In other words, you increase how many watts you can make, then work on how long you can make them. Early on this may mean working on your short term power (a couple of minutes) and extending that power out to 4-6 minutes. This raises the roof and attic. Then, you do the same thing for your FT and later race power. You start out with a directed long ride that includes a few 15-minute intervals at race power. Later in the season, you will extend those intervals to 20 or 30 minutes. As you reach peak training load, you gradually cut down the rest interval. You will come to a place where you can ride at your desired race power very steadily and without great variation for many hours.

4. Don’t do anything in the race you didn’t first do in training!

This might be the most important rule. Prove to yourself you can do it in training before you try to throw the smack down in a race. If the best you have ever done for 180k is 220 watts and you try to push 260 watts, you are asking for a 6 hour marathon that will leave you praying for death. You would be surprised at how many people do exactly this. Just because you feel like Superman at the end of your taper doesn’t mean you are faster than a speeding bullet. Stick to the plan.

The Big Picture:

As you apply these concepts to swimming and running, it is important to remember the big picture. The body adapts to stress according to some pretty well defined principles, the most important of which are specificity and progressive overload.Specificity means just what you think it does: at the end of the day, you need to run to become a better runner and bike to be a better biker. There is very little crossover between sports, and this has been proven scientifically. (To be strict about it, there is some minimal crossover, but this is of more importance to novice and/or severely detrained athletes). Progressive overload means that you slowly overload the body such that it adapts to the new stress level. In mythology, Hercules became strong by carrying a small calf up a hill every day. Each day, the calf grew a little, which made his “workout” a little harder. Hercules achieved great strength through a process of overload. He didn’t carry the calf one week and then a bull the next week. Catch our drift? You can’t do it all at once…it needs to be gradual.

But, just how long is “gradual”? We are talking years. Seriously. More often than not, athletes “overshoot” mentally. They attempt an overly ambitious training program and expect a result that isn’t in keeping with the time periods of physiologic adaptation. They think in terms of weeks, months and race seasons, when in fact it takes years (as many as 10) to come to peak ability. The results of “overshooting” are often frustration, injury and health complications. In desperation, the frustrated athlete then begins investing too much energy in things that don’t provide any proven gains. They look to enhance results with supplements, swimming aids, or special running shoes, and become still more frustrated when they fail to meet expectations.

There is no easy way. Achieving your potential is about hard work, being honest with yourself, and having a deep level of commitment to becoming your best on your body’s terms, not your ego’s terms. There is no replacement for things like a healthy lifestyle, sleep, good nutrition, and above all, patience.

Conclusion:

Above all, the most important concept we can convey to you is that your training program must be based on evidence; that is, real data. How fast can you swim 4k on a day-to-day basis in training? How many watts can you put out and for how long can you put them out? How fast can you run from 20-40k? How about after cycling for several hours? This is what you need to know to design your training program properly, and just as importantly, how to optimally plan and execute your race. Good Luck!
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Aperion For Life, Inc. bridges the gaps between sports performance, lifestyle development, and health and wellness, providing thoroughly planned and effective solutions to fitness related challenges. Read more at www.aperionforlife.com

PhysFarm Training Systems, LLC is dedicated to helping clients in amateur and professional sports achieve excellence in athletic performance through the application of the latest science and state of the art technology. PhysFarm develops custom training strategies for clients interested in lifting performance through legal, scientifically validated means. More information is available at www.physfarm.com


13 August 2007

Poker Pacing


Jeff Shilt, M.D.

Over the past few years, I’ve tried different running approaches to get faster. This year, I’ve concentrated on running the back half of my runs faster than I do the front half. This pace can be different from session to session, but I try to always negative split the “effort”.

I want to state right from the start that I know very little about poker, so if I don’t represent the game (Hi:Low) correctly, then I apologize. However, one has to admit the terminology is “catchy”!!

So what is poker pacing? I choose my target heart rate for the day, which is generally dependent on the duration of the run. For my runs that are 1 hour or greater, this corresponds to my projected steady hr that I will utilize for Ironman pacing. In the first third of the run, my effort that day is never higher than the specified rate. For me, especially when fatigued, this usually involves 18-20 minutes of very easy running. This effort is usually 12-15 beats below my goal in the early going, and it naturally drifts up to my specified “High” limit.

In the middle of the run, I elevate my effort until my heart rate matches my target heart rate.

The final third of the run is most crucial and where the most benefit from the effort occurs. My heart rate in this period is never below the “Low” limit. Typically this is challenging during the initial effort, but after overcoming the mental urge to slow down the pace becomes comfortable. If feeling fresh, I will end the run topped out at my aerobic ceiling for the last 10-15 minutes.

I find several advantages in this approach. First, it allows me to ease into each run, relieving the mental stress of hitting a particular pace. I really like to take it easy during the beginning of the run. The more fatigued I am, the longer it might take to reach my “High” limit. I find this very relaxing, saving valuable mental energy needed later.

Secondly, I find that this more relaxed approach allows me to pace more appropriately on that particular day. It is seldom that I end up bonking or slowing down because my initial effort is one that is more realistic given my condition that day. There is no “pushing” myself to run a pace I likely can’t hold.

The mental benefit of allowing me to take an easy pace in the beginning of the run pays off when I feel obliged to keep the commitment of a harder effort at the end of the run. My experience is that the easy pace in the first half when I’m fresh is not significantly lower than a more pressured pace; whereas the harder effort is typically much faster than a failing second half effort in which you went too hard in the beginning.

I’ve additionally observed an improved ability to gauge the appropriateness of my pacing and level of fatigue. If my elevated heart rate in final 1/3 results in a faster pace, I think it is safe to say I have the appropriate fitness to run that pace AND that I’ve chosen a pace that is reasonable for that fitness. On the other hand, when my extra effort at the end doesn’t result in a faster pace, then I’ve chosen too fast of a pace. When I can’t reach a higher heart rate, it generally means I’m fatigued. This last assumption takes into account that I’ve been using poker pacing in training and am very familiar with my efforts and paces.

This pacing can be used for the other disciplines and the entire race. This has become increasingly apparent as our training group has experimented with “Big Day Training” and variation of our efforts during our swim and bike sessions.

I’ve included my splits from an open water swim I recently completed:

7/26/07 Boulder Swim

time/avg hr
15:27/106
15:46/114
14:29/125
14:00/136
13:22/145

This was a successful pacing session in that I was able to remain relaxed in the beginning and then steadily increase my effort with a concomitant increase in pace over the duration of the swim. As I refine my efforts in the water, I will be able to narrow the range over which heart rates vary. Though, similar to running, I’m continually surprised how much additional effort at the end is required to significantly elevate pace.

It is clear to me that when approaching BDT and iron-distance events with the intention of taking it easy during the swim and first 45 minutes or so of the bike (first third), steady during the remainder of the bike and the first 20 minutes of the run (second third), I’m able to elevate my effort and increase my pace in the final aspects of the run. Using this approach requires significant patience and an thorough understanding of early pacing. My experience is that without training this method, most of us don’t have the self-awareness of early pacing and the mental fortitude to resist the chaos around us on race day.

Just remember, iron-distance racing should be approached as Big Day Training with a fast final 10k.

Hope this is helpful.

Dr.J

09 August 2007

Instrument Training

Sam Doolittle


When you see little 2-4 seat planes flying around in the sky, they are mostly flying under what is known as Visual Flight Rules (VFR). That means that the pilot is doing most of his flying and navigating by looking out the window. Many of the small changes in the plane’s attitude (banking, climbing, etc) are preformed by feel and by looking out the window at the horizon. The term ‘flying by the seat of you pants’ comes from the feel of our butt on the seat in various flight attitudes.

More advanced flying makes extensive use of the various instruments in the plane. For the purpose of this discussion, I will focus on two instruments: the altimeter and the attitude indicator.

Altimeter

The altimeter shows the plane’s altitude above sea level. It is simply a barometer designed on the idea that changes in air pressure are a result of climbing or descending.

Attitude Indicator

The attitude indicator (AI) is also known as the artificial horizon. It depicts the plane’s attitude (whether it’s banked, climbing, descending, or level). In the attached picture, the plane is wings-level, in a slight climb. This instrument is based around a gyroscope which is sensitive to any changes in the plane’s attitude.

Using both instruments together

If you are flying in the clouds with no external references, it is quite easy to be disoriented. (In fact, this is a major cause of small plane crashes – untrained pilots flying into the clouds and becoming disoriented). Therefore, it is necessary to fly solely by reference to instruments. (As an aside, the first pilot to do this was Gen. Jimmy Doolittle. Although he is best remembered for leading the Tokyo raid in WWII, it is his instrument flying which is perhaps his greatest contribution).

When flying in the clouds, the understanding and use of both of the aforementioned instruments is critical. The AI shows any momentary change in the plane’s attitude while the altimeter shows trends over time. For instance, when the pilot initially pulls back on the yoke, the AI will show that a climb has been initiated. However, the altimeter will only show a climb as the plane’s altitude actually increases. (Interestingly, at slow airspeeds, it is possible to be in a climbing attitude while actually losing altitude.)

One way pilots describe how these two instruments interact is to characterize the attitude indicator as a control instrument and the altimeter as a performance instrument. In other words, when initiating a climb or descent solely by reference to instruments, you would control the attitude with the attitude indicator and determine the performance of that climb or descent with the altimeter.

What’s this got to do with endurance training?

Think about the discussion above, but replace ‘attitude indicator’ with power meter and ‘altimeter’ with heart rate monitor. The power meter is a control instrument showing how much force is being applied to the pedal at any time. The heart rate monitor is a performance instrument giving you feedback from your control inputs. Just not necessarily instantaneously.

(And, similarly to how a pilot sets altitude limits and follows them on the altimeter, one would also set heart rate limits).

One last point, it is a common refrain in flight training for the instructor to tell the student to ‘get his head outside the cockpit’. In other words, stop focusing on the instruments and fly the plane by looking outside. Once you can do that, then learn how to control the airplane by instruments. I believe the same holds true for all the technology available to today’s endurance athletes.

Happy landings,


Sam

06 August 2007

Daniels Running Formula

Part 1: Long Term Athletic Development

Alan Couzens, MS (Sport Science), CSCS, PES

The most frequent quandary I have witnessed as a coach and an observer of elite coaches over the past 10 years relates to the fundamental questions of ‘how much?’ & ‘how hard?’. The best coaches that I have seen seem to have an innate sense of appropriate volume and appropriate pace based on the developmental level of the athletes that they work with. Still, this unique skill of determining appropriate workloads is something that seems to, as a best case scenario, take many years, many trials & many errors to develop. So, where does the committed athlete turn in an effort to determine some reasonable, concrete parameters in determining appropriate workloads for themselves? Certainly, hiring one of these accomplished coaches is a good starting point. Another option is to review some of the literature written by these great coaching minds. Frequently, however, it has been my experience that the very best coaches only understand their decision making processes on very abstract levels. They just have a “feel” for what their athletes should be doing. A notable exception to this can be found in the formulae of running coach and scientist, Jack Daniels. Jack is renowned in the running community as the “numbers guy”. He revolutionized the way that we determine appropriate running pacing with his V-DOT table and has left several implications on the table that have a direct impact on your long term planning as a triathlete.

1. If you want to train faster then prove it by racing faster.

The crux of the Daniel’s approach is that there is a narrow band of optimal training paces/intensities that train each physiological system. The clear implication for this is that while you may be able to do your intervals faster or harder than what your own respective VDOT recommends, if you do so, you will not be training the physiological mechanism that you are targeting for that workout. In short, the only way to move up a level in your pace recommendations is to prove that your VDOT has increased via race results.

2. If you want to train more, then prove it by racing faster.

In the second edition of Daniel’s Running Formula, Daniels takes a look at fitness programs for beginners, recreational athletes & sub-elite athletes. While he doesn’t directly relate these programs to VDOT, he does provide recommended mileage and time guidelines for each program. This approach to training, i.e. using fitness/competition level to determine training volume and intensity has also been epitomized in the New York Runners Club programs written by Bob and Shelly-Lynn Glover (Glover, 1998).

I find this method particularly applicable to long-course triathletes, who often take the complete reverse approach to this, i.e. I want to race faster therefore I have to train more. No, if you want to train more, you must prove it by racing faster. For every individual, there is an optimal volume (& speed) that will lead to improved racing performance. This optimal volume is related to their own specific limiters, their biomechanical idiosyncracies and their specific lifestyle constraints. However, within these factors, there exists a general range of optimal training volume for various performance levels.

So, what is this optimal volume? A few guidelines from Daniels and others to consider:

In Daniels’ Red (intermediate) plan, for runners who can complete a 20 mile training week under 3hrs (which, for the numerically obsessed out there, works out to a flat base pace of <9:00 per mile or a V-DOT of 47), he recommends building from 20-35 miles per week before racing anything up to half-marathon distance. This program has very limited training beyond tempo intensity. In other words, if you are not running 40-52mi p.w. at a base pace of 8:20 or better per mile, in Daniels opinion (and mine), you are not ready for focused speed work. Importantly, he also points out that runners of this ability level are not ready to target a marathon, which provides some pretty interesting implications for Novice triathletes who sign up for an Ironman with similar fitness numbers

In the Blue (advanced) plan (for runners with a base pace of ~8:20/mile or better/VDOT of 51), Daniels recommends 40-52 miles per week (over the course of 16+ weeks or ~2% increase per week). This phase of development represents more of a focus on speed work (interval training/VO2max sets). In my opinion, this may still be a little early for the use of VO2max sets if the athlete is concerned with developing to their ultimate potential. For instance, former Aussie National Swim Coach, Bill Sweetenham, did no focused VO2 max training for his swimmers until after they had reached National Qualifying level (In Daniels-speak, this would equate to a VDOT of ~64). Daniels also continues to point out that this level of training is not really optimal for Marathon preparation

In the Gold (sub elite) plan (for runners who can complete a 60 mile run week at or better than ~7:45/mile, representing a VDOT of >57), Daniels recommends 60-75 miles/wk of running and asserts that when a runner is of the calibre to handle this training program, they will be prepared for the specific training necessary to prepare for competition of any distance. This level of fitness ties in nicely with Sweetenham’s recommendations of attaining a VDOT of 60+ before engaging in ‘specialized’ training (i.e. race-specific speedwork).

After completing the Gold level of development, the athlete will be ready to undertake any of Daniels’ specialized elite training programs (ranging from 800m-Marathon), presumably in accordance with the personal strengths that they have discovered in the course of the general developmental programs. This form of long term athletic development, moving from a general to a specific focus over a long time period is reminiscent of the plans espoused by periodization guru Istvan Balyi (2005). It is Balyi’s contention that an athlete should be progressed very gradually over the course of 10 years (or 10,000 hours) if they are to achieve their full athletic potential.

Interestingly if we look at a case study of 1, based on Gordo’s rate of development in his July blog entry, his theoretical pattern of training development, based on Daniels programs, would have looked like this:



Based on the training data that I have from Gordo, these mileage numbers look pretty right. For instance, 60 miles @ 6:54/mi = 7hrs/week of running. Gordo’s current run volume is 5-8hrs per week, 5hrs for the easy weeks & 8 for the basic weeks, leading to an average of ~7 per week. If you look at Gordo’s basic week as a working athlete back in 2000, the numbers (4 runs for a total of ~5hrs) seem to line up with the above recommendations pretty well also.

So, pulling all of this together, here are a couple of key observations from the data that you can apply to your own long term plan:

1. It still takes a long time to get good.
That is, it takes a long-term commitment to appropriate, consistent, moderate training to even get close to approaching your potential. We are talking about net mileage increases of ~6-7 miles per year (not 10% per week)!! Setting up a basic week that changes slightly every 6-8 weeks is, in my opinion the best way to apply this progressive, gradual overload long-term.

2. You need to get fit before worrying about getting fast.
If 13 year old kids can swim 4:37 for a 400 with no speed-work, then you really need to question how appropriate speedwork is for you as a sub-elite long course athlete. As Gordo’s progression shows, the key to continual improvement in VDOT (& VO2max) is a consistent application of aerobic volume, not “bleed from the eyeballs” intervals. G’s fitness reached Sweetenham’s criteria for the inclusion of focused speedwork in 2003, when he was an 8:46 Ironman!

3. If you want to be a better runner, run.
If you want to become a faster runner, to a very large extent, you have to run. While the Daniels plan is specific to running, if you take a look at the VDOT values of triathletes, it becomes apparent that you don’t get to discount a whole lot of run mileage in the name of cross training!

One important caveat: That is not to say that the vast majority of Iron Distance athletes out there cannot significantly improve their running split with appropriate bike volume and race execution. However, there comes a point (AFTER these factors are maximized) that the only way to improve your run split is to become a faster runner.

The implications on long-term development for non-elite athletes are certainly something that struck a chord with me when reading the 2nd edition of Daniel’s running formula. As illustrated above, for the most part, the numbers tie in very well with both real life athletic development and proposed developmental plans from some other proven sporting coaches, including Bill Sweetenham and Istvan Balyi.

A couple of fascinating questions that arise from looking at talent identification and long-term athletic development are:

  1. Once the general developmental period is over, how does the athlete know what events suit their natural strengths?
  2. During the specific preparatory period, how does the athlete identify physiological weaknesses that need improvement?
Daniels sheds some interesting light on these 2 questions with his 2.2+6 seconds rule, as do David Martin and Peter Coe (coach and father of Sebastian Coe) in their landmark book, Better Training for Distance Runners. Stay tuned for an upcoming article that delves into what these authors have to say on these two very important questions.

On a related note, stay tuned to my Blog for an upcoming article on how to interpret a lactate curve and how to use the information to identify & address your own personal athletic limiters.

For comments and questions, please contact me at alan@endurancecorner.com.

References available upon request.