Archive for November, 2011

Constant Variation, Optimal Results

Posted in Rest and Relaxation on November 4, 2011 by Living Against the Grain

In the first two months post ironman I’ve learned what it feels like to have your body’s energy stores truly and utterly exhausted. It’s a humbling and gratifying feeling at the same time. Overall, its not awesome, but eating the right diet and sleeping lots gets you back to full steam in only a few weeks.

I’ve also learned that as an athlete, you can never stop learning, growing, and varying your training regime. Everything to do with your training plan must be targeted (i.e. Rest, intensity, duration, and volume) however these elements must also be constantly varied in order to prevent special adaptation or ‘accommodation’.

If your body starts accommodating to any sport specific movement pattern, it begins to weaken in other areas. Therefore as an athlete and especially as a triathlete you open the door to sub-optimal gains in your general physical preparedness and therefore your sport specific performance will be governed to a sub-optimal max.

Not to get too deep on this, but hear me out:

I believe its important to split up a training plan into three categories: general physical preparedness, Special physical preparedness, and sport specific training and then get after each one accordingly. When this is done correctly it will yield far superior results than a training plan that is too narrowly focused.

I will use my own experiences as the basis for this statement.

For the past 4 weeks I’ve been full on training but putting in only about 6-7 hours a week. Instead of building up sheer volume the focus has been on programming in 4-6 targeted crossfit workouts, tons of mobility wod, 2-3 conjugate strength workouts focusing on different lifts, and lots of low intensity, technique work.

With such a low volume of training any traditional training plan would put my level of fitness far below the pre-ironman peak back in August.

But in reality I have recently set PRs in the following disciplines:

Deadlifts, Front and Back Squats, 10km run, 400m run 100m swim, and my average pace for a variety of swim and run intervals has improved.

So what is the deal?

Its simple:

A low volume, high intensity, targeted, and constantly varying crossfit endurance style training regime, is a fun and super effective way to train for endurance sports.

One way to look at it is: Technique leads to proper movement patterns, which leads to the ability to handle more intensity, which leads to the ability to handle more volume (without injury), which then leads to increased performance.

Another way to look at it is….. De-evolve your training plan to tap into a prehistoric evolutionary power source.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors flourished in a constantly changing, dynamic environment. Embrace this heritage and program some hunter gatherer style variation into your training plan.

Further reading:

I encourage you to read up on Louie Simmons and the West Side Barbell method of strength training.
I say this because Strength training is crucial to both the development of an endurance athlete’s performance and injury prevention and the conjugate method which is used at westside barbell is hard to beat.