Why We Do What We Do – How We Should Train

I am a triathlon tragic. I love everything about the sport and confess to devouring all the different websites, social media posts and latest training improvements every day.  I can’t get enough of it. 

Through my own experiences as an athlete for over 25 years and a coach for 10 years, I think I am fairly well placed to have an informed opinion on what works when it comes to training.  Additionally through my own research and studies and having trained with, coached and spoken to elite athletes, elite coaches and age group coaches I keep coming back to a very simple but effective approach. 

Easy on the easy, hard on the hard and be consistent. In fact it is in our DNA to train that way. 

The human form can out run anything on the planet. As cavemen we had to hunt for our food and whilst our prey were faster we could run for longer and when it came time to catch it we were able to quickly increase our speed. Our bodies are built to go slow or fast. 

With training for any distance as a general rule I believe in polarized training. About 80% of our training needs to be at an aerobic level and the remaining 20% at an anaerobic level. There are cases where that differs slightly based on the athlete but that is my underlying principle for triathlon. 

This teaches our body to become fat burning machines, improves V02 max, threshold levels and muscular endurance.  All key components to becoming a faster athlete. 

The problem is many athletes will go too fast on the easy sessions and not hard enough on their hard sessions.  Some think that unless they are screwed at the end of every session then they haven’t improved.  Others seem addicted to their garmins or not disciplined enough to go at their easy pace and not their training partners.  So whilst it is easy to get right it is also easy to get wrong. 

As a coach we manage the volume, intensity and recovery for the athlete so they get the best outcome.  That is the part that differs for athletes but as a general rule the training principle should stay the same. 

In my next article I’ll talk about what is easy and what is hard. And go into volume versus intensity and how there maybe slight changes in the training formula based on the specific athlete.