Endurance

Stress…Response

Within minutes of the sun rising over Mauna Kea the air temperature noticeably rises. Today’s ride was done and dusted before sweltering temps and trade winds could overly impact my workout. This is in contrast to a ride last week when temps were 10°C warmer and my heart rate was upwards of 30 beats per minute higher. Both environments are useful, but it’s important that the body and mind are prepared for the differing stressors—that workouts and recovery are coordinated to allow for healthy development. The goal of all training is to provide the body with adaptation stimuli. The goal

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Capacity & Power

“Most triathletes are doing too much [high-intensity work]. You don’t need more than 1 HIT session per week.” ~Jan Olbrecht PhD “Many recreational athletes are scared [that they’re] not training hard enough. What they need to be thinking about is training easy enough, and long enough in the low-intensity sessions to build biological durability so that the high-intensity sessions really can be developmental.” ~Dr. Stephen Seiler Dr’s Olbrecht & Seiler, two highly respected leading sport scientists, are very clear that most people place too much emphasis on high-intensity training (HIT). Let’s take a look at the reasoning. The physiological engine

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Endurance Training

❝What is very clear is that the best athletes in endurance sport spend ~90% of the time below the first lactate turn-point.❞ ~Stephen Seiler, PhD & Dean, Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences and Nutrition, Universitetet i Agder, Kristiansand, Norway Building fitness takes work. A very important part of it is knowing how hard, how much, how often, and why. The last one—why—affects everything else. The reason for doing something changes so it’s important to continually revisit the question. It can empower you to healthy excellence or lead to disease. It can build you up or provoke injury. The first

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Prep & Base Training

Prep & Base

In my post entitled Off-Season, I quickly summarised the most important phase of the year, off-season, for recovery of the mind and body. In this post, I’ll outline the next two phases. The point of sharing this information is to help facilitate the process of learning, and to help athletes avoid some of the pitfalls or at least lessen their time in them. The two meso-phases after Off-season are Preparation and Base training. The underlying foci in both are the accumulation of training volume, building strength and improvement in technique (form). The base phase consists of three micro-phases, each with small

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Downtime

Off-Season

It took me many years to learn the importance of downtime. This year, I finally headed advice from Alan Couzens and took an entire month of complete rest. Alan, Mike James, and many others know the importance of enjoying another 4-6 weeks, after the complete rest period, for really light, even unplanned exercise. This is sometimes known as the Transition phase. Between time off and ‘soft’ month that’s 8 weeks of no training!! It’s been an incredible experience for me these last 7 weeks to watch the progression in my mind and body as structures heal, the mind recharges, and

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UMC Day 3

Embrace

A good friend recently asked me, “What does it feel like to embrace the pain?” It’s an interesting question to ponder, and one that I wouldn’t have had an answer to before Ultraman Canada. For all other events in my life I’ve fought the mental, emotional, and physical pain, gone to battle with it in an attempt to hold it at bay, or hopefully fight it away. Photo by Colin F Cross Other than recently, the only time I haven’t waged war against the pain was once, while in the depths of depression, when I no longer had the energy to hold up the mask

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2nd Place Overall

Endurance Insights

One of the overarching reflections I have of racing Ultraman Canada 2019 can be summarised as, “Where did that performance output come from?!” In one regard, I wouldn’t have extrapolated my prior data and experience to predict the achieved results. On the other hand, there are clues to be found in the methodology and mindset. I entered the event believing in the possibility of achieving excellence. This is fundamental because without a positive mental attitude a low ceiling is already cemented into place. Removing perceived boundaries provides room for potential to express itself in extraordinary ways. Keep in mind, however,

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Alignment

“Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction.” ~William James In October 2012 I suffered a pylon fracture of my right ankle, an injury that two surgeons said was the end of impact sports for me. Fortunately, in the dark and painful moments in the ER, my best friend was there to help turn on the light switch. A mantra began to sprout, Always Believe. Before surgery, I spoke with the surgeon

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Twist of Lime

It was a miserable, miserable day at Ironman Ireland, Cork. Nearing the finish line, I was tremendously grateful that it was over. Yet, a few days later I began to taste a sweet twist of lime that I had missed during the 11+ hours of heavy rain and wind. The pelting downpour, cold temperatures and poor logistics management by the race organisation were challenging, to say the least. However, the continual outpour of well-wishing and support from the spectators was heart-warming; for them, I kept digging deeper. Deluge The Youghal and County Cork residents are perhaps the most wonderful people I’ve

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Z1 Training

Slow Cook It

When you crank the thermostat the room heats quickly. On an already warm day, it takes quite a while for the temperature to reach liveable levels again. The human body works in a similar fashion. With intense exercise, the system throws fast burning fuels into the furnace to meet and maintain required energy levels. In then takes time to recover and replace the resources consumed. In other words, once you burn your britches you have to stitch a new pair, walking around exposed in the meantime. The smarter move is to nudge the thermostat, letting the tissues and processes heat

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Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway

Settled

<< Settled >>That was the feeling after my recent 8 hour, 52km jog while crewing for an Ultraman World Championship athlete. The sense arose immediately after crossing the finish line. Maybe it was endorphin saturation, or mental fatigue from extended focus on another person. Or perhaps it was the completion of a journey that I’ve deliberated with mixture of curiosity and fear for a long time—travelling by foot from the north end of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway to the old Kailua airport. It’s said that life is not sprint, it’s a marathon.I’m seeing it now as an ultra. Always check

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Face Your Fear

Fear & Leaning In

I wrote in my journal last week, before Ironman Tallinn, that what I enjoy most is a simple, consistent daily routine. As an ultra-endurance athlete that means the repetition of training, eating, sleeping–preferably in a rather unchanging setting. Two days post-race, however, I find myself somewhat lost at not having a race for another ten months. Pausing, I notice a very subtle sensation of panic, and that my breath tightens ever so slightly. I thrive in the methodical. But I’m stimulated by goals and new experiences. It’s a very curious dichotomy; one that I don’t understand and am unsure how

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Consistency

Consistency

That hurt. …And I loved it! After two months of fluctuation it’s time to dig in again and get some solid, steady training done. Today, I FINALLY got back on a trainer! It’s been fabulous to live in a splendorous (new) location, journey to two races, build new friendships, and revisit an intriguing city. But between unstable weather, a few body tissue issues, recovery time, and travel days I’ve become increasingly uneasy with the lack of consistency. For the next two months I’ll be in one location, and hopefully with limited distractions. Some will consider me a nutcase for saying

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Sleep

Recovery

Why are some athletes OK with training 7 days/week (1 day being just movement, without any actual physical stress) and others, like me, need a day off? In a Science of Ultra podcast with Dr. Shawn Bearden, Dr. Shona Halson, Senior Recovery Physiologist at the Australian Institute of Sport, clued me in. …It depends on one’s own psychological landscape. There are athletes who have trouble taking a day off. They feel stressed if not engaged. Then there are those, like me, whose mind is quietened and strengthened by regularly turning off sport specific focus. I found through experience that just

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Yes

Yes!

Yes! Today was my official return to structured training after some time off. It feels Grrrreeeeeat! I’m a big believer in the importance of taking time away from one’s primary sport (or career) to allow for regeneration of physical tissues, to provide time for the mind to absorb all that has happened, and to grant the spirit space to charge our batteries. Room is required in order for growth to occur, and when that gap is mindfully provided it fosters cultivation of positive change. Development doesn’t always happen exactly as–or when–desired, but we can arrange our environment in a way

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