❝ If you’re listening to the body when it whispers to you, you don’t have to hear it scream.❞~Nils van der Poel This post is not another archetypal analysis of the 5 on – 2 off, big volume training program published by Nils, Instead, I’d like to look closer at something I’ve not seen anyone else discuss: reducing mental load and increasing confidence. “I wasn’t mentally strong as a kid, I hated to compete ever since I started speed skating, I truly hated it.” This point was made crystal clear in Nils’ “Sommarprat” 2021. In fact, he had a

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Training & Intensity Distribution

There’s a lot of talk about polarised training—most training is performed at low intensity and a small amount at higher intensities, once a solid foundation is developed. Training needs to become more polarised as an athlete’s fitness level increases in order to ensure that metabolic load is maintained. However, a lower level athlete can’t really train in a polarised fashion because low intensity is already a high load on the system. Unfortunately, this can be incredibly difficult to put into practice for people who have a lower level of fitness. Lack of fitness is not due to lack of intensity.

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❝ Zone 3 is too much pain for too little gain.❞ Let’s tease this apart a bit to gain more understanding. • Zone 3, in a five-zone exercise intensity model, is the workload often called ‘tempo’ or ‘threshold work’, meaning that the intensity is just below Ventilatory Threshold 2 (VT2) and the Anerobic Threshold (AnT), which is the approximate boundary between zone 3 and zone 4. Above VT2/AnT is where interval sessions are typically done. • Pain refers to more than just the sensation of experience; it’s the overall cost to the body: i.e. substrate (fuel) utilisation, tissue health, overall

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Even if…

Even if you’re only doing what’s fun, it’s still 𝙙𝙤-𝙞𝙣𝙜.Enjoying one’s work is not permission to continually extract.Fallow & replenishment are necessary. Nature has day and night, cold and warm, wet and dry, and four seasons for a reason. Humans have a multitude of circadian rhythms. We can work with them or, to our peril, fight them. In a podcast episode entitled Burnout and Renewal, Charles Eisenstein opened up and bared himself. He started by doing what he always does, investigate the substratum of life. In this case, he became the subject of enquiry. Devorah Brous beautifully went down the

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Nature's Winter


I’ve been using a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) for three weeks. Although I’ve only scratched the surface, some patterns are emerging that allow me to plan interventions and observe their effects. • Week 1: Just watch and document without changing anything.• Week 2: Become more acutely aware of the effects of foods, exercise, and their timing in order to attune mental and physical sensations with objective data.• Week 3: Start testing various interventions. As someone with a history of an eating disorder, I was concerned about monitoring food intake*. I feared falling into a cycle of attempted control. But I

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Close friends and family know that I’m a much happier person, and a great deal more pleasant to be around, after I’ve exercised. This is especially true following longer duration sessions, whether that be biking, running, swimming, or downhill skiing. The reason for the increase in affability is multifold. In her book, “Joy of Movement”, Kelly McGonigal does a science-based deep dive into the health-enhancing and life-extending benefits of exercise and movement. The underlying mechanisms may surprise you, they did me. Without question, exercise helps create happiness, meaning, and connection! ❝ McGonigal draws on insights from neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and

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Consistency & Volume

In Stephen Seiler PhD’s lecture “Intensify or Extend? Balancing Training Prescription across the Endurance Duration Range” he makes clear that the key to athletic improvement is to favour adaptation over stress. Via consistent volume over time, most of which is easy, we utilise minuscule positive changes to our advantage. ❝ By shifting the fulcrum (balance point between Adaptive Stimulus and Stress) just a little bit towards adaptation then, over the long haul, we win.❞ ~Stephen Seiler PhD Dr Seiler uses an example of an athlete with 250 training sessions in a year. He asks the question, “If every workout gave

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Decade & A Year

I don’t usually reflect on my training and racing through total duration and distance. Instead, I pay more attention to the patterns within the days, weeks, and months. But when I was asked, it seemed interesting to have a look. It’s been a tumultuous year that included a chronic health issue with roots reaching back to my infancy: it’s played an increasing role throughout my life, culminating to a peak this spring. Since then a lot has been learned and major strides have been made towards what is now the best health of my life. This decade has been a

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❝Gluttony does not produce hunger.❞~Matt Dixon In his groundbreaking book The Science of Winning, Jan Olbrecht PhD defines and illuminates the principle of super-compensation. It is the part of the adaptation phenomenon where physical performance increases above the initial level, which is the goal at the end of a training block and before starting the next cycle. It occurs because the body’s rebuilding efforts continue for a short time after returning to baseline to better equip itself for future stress. But if we get greedy and overextend ourselves then recovery time must be extended thereby diminishing opportunities for super-compensation. Dr

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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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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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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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