Mar 30, 2012

Mar 28, 2012


In general terms, coaches/athletes have three options when it comes to training prescription:

A) Train to current fitness
B) Train to goal fitness
C) Mix of A & B

We make these decisions on a daily basis, although my observations lead me to believe that few people do it consciously, and fewer articulate these distinctions when talking about their approach to training.

The concepts are very simple, and relate first and foremost to the intensity of training. Without a doubt, training volume and the resulting training load (the product of volume and intensity) are also implicated, but I find that intensity (ie. pace, power, etc) is usually the primary variable being modified in this framework.

To "train to current fitness" simply means that training prescription is based on current fitness. The simplest example is an athlete who trains using RPE (rating of perceived exertion); a 60 min run done at a RPE of 7/10 will be done at a different pace in the winter than the summer, but will feel the same to the athlete. A more structured approach would use the data obtained from a recent time trial, race or test set to establish training intensity zones. There are several examples of this approach: Jon Urbanchek's color system in swimming, Dr. A. Coggan's power zones* in cycling, and Jack Daniels or Greg McMillan in running.

To "train to goal fitness" is to establish a goal pace (or power) for an event, and systemically train for longer durations (and/or with shorter rest) at that pace, as explained here by UK running coach Frank Horwill. I've seen several programs, across a broad spectrum of endurance sports, which follow this basic philosophy.

Both approaches have merits and weaknesses. In our program we employ both approaches (Option C) depending on the athlete and the time of year.

The point of this post however is not to argue for one approach over another, but rather to encourage athletes and coaches to identify for themselves what they are doing. Do you train to current fitness, or goal fitness? It's a simple question, but fundamental to the development and execution of a training plan.

*Dr. Coggan has clearly stated that the power zones are to be used descriptively, not prescriptively, but in my experience they are employed by coaches to both describe training and prescribe training.

Mar 11, 2012


Chrissie Wellington on developing mental toughness:
“But I think the key is that you have to practice this in training. You know, 30k into the marathon in an Ironman is too late to realize you don’t have the mental strength to continue the race.”
Interview starts at 45:00 here (click "listen now" to launch player).

It's not rocket science, folks. The focus, habits and tendencies you bring to training will be the same you bring to racing. No one flips a switch on race day and becomes something they aren't in training. Equally applicable to athletes & coaches.

Mar 6, 2012


In case you missed it, there's a great opportunity tonight in Guelph, free to any/all:

Science and the Running Machine: The Dog Days Are Over!

Presented by the Speed River T&F Club

Renowned sports science author and blogger Dr. Alex Hutchinson and National Team Physiotherapist Brenda Scott-Thomas, will make presentations on the latest sport sciences and applied methods on biomechanics, minimalist training, proper running form and injury prevention. This fun filled and informative evening is free of charge.

More info here

Mar 2, 2012


A little late to the party on posting this, but it's definitely worth watching a few more times. What an incredible sport. Further inspiration to get into those blue carpet races.

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