Olympian Andy Potts speaks M2 Training Language

Andy Potts, Olympian, 3-time Escape from Alcatraz Champion, 70.3 World Champion, and 7th place in his Ironman debut in Kona ’08, speaks the training language of M2:

  • Quality versus quantity
  • Measured workouts referencing watts and power
  • Strong before long

Excerpts from an article with the SF Examiner prior to Escape from Alcatraz 2009 edition, where Potts discussed his cycling training and foray into 70.3 and Ironman competitions:

Has Potts changed his training to reflect the longer distance races?

“No, not really that’s been the nicest and oddest thing about my foray into doing some longer things (70.3 and Ironman). I do a lot of quality. I treat every workout as an opportunity to improve and not really throw any wasted miles into the equation.”

Potts’ approach to cycling training is influenced by his background as an NCAA All-American swimmer.

“I train on a CompuTrainer (indoor trainer that measures watts) six days a week. It’s a very controlled environment and you can document your progress very methodically. It could be that I gravitate towards that because of my background in swimming where it’s a very controlled environment. I don’t do the computer with it. I just ride ergometer mode and train towards watts and power. I probably ride outdoors maybe thirty times a year. I don’t ride very long. The longest CompuTrainer workout would be 2 hours 20 minutes.

The strength training I get is derived mostly from the consistency and the repeatability of the workouts that I do.”

As folks familiar with M2 will know, quality-based indoor training in a controlled environment with objective metrics (watts) has been the cornerstone of my training and coaching program since 1991.

I tend to think that I was pretty unique in 1995 when I required my coached athletes to get a computrainer if they wanted to be coached – rationale was that I could be a better coach and deliver a superior program if we had an objective and quantitative measurement (watts/time) of cycling power/fitness.

Although the Computrainer has some slick features that enable you to ride courses with interesting graphics, like Andy, I always found it more productive to use straightforward ergometer (watts) mode for more specific focus on power and fitness.

The CycleOps Indoor Cycle that we use at M2 Revolution is now my preferred indoor tool and where the same Powertap wattage measurement technology provides me with identical indoor and outdoor wattage references.

Note Andy’s reference to not throwing “wasted miles” into the training equation. Triathletes are famous for measuring fitness not by objective performance metrics, but instead by how much training they are doing, all the while ignoring their monotone speeds and lack of improvement – see Exhibit A and Exhibit B below.

As Andy’s success against the best in the sport has demonstrated, training for longer distance events really does not have to change that much, and the volume phase (race specific) can be done in the last weeks of training. Quality in the form of measured training, strength corroborated by objective fitness numbers, and race specific long rides/runs in the weeks before your event = an executable training plan with relevant fitness metrics.

For folks that are considering moving up to longer distances but who might have been intimidated by the volume of training that they think is necessary, Potts’ echoing of M2 training tenets ought to provide some comfort.

For veterans who have been practicing the generic volume-based Training Peaks et al approach, you might ask yourself if repeating the same will produce a different result, or just how much even more volume and time you might invest to somehow get a better result.

Exhibit A – Wasted Miles (and time)

Repeated 100m rides in “Zone 2” up and back, and again on the Silverado Trail. If only the sheer tedium served a measured fitness purpose…

Exhibit B – Wasted training opportunities

Doing extraneous strength training (hamstring curls, leg extensions, etc.) that tire you and compromise the execution of your key cycling workouts. M2 refers to this as “strength training to become a weaker cyclist.”

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