Both my own training and that of my training program is defined by a set of core training principles. These training principles did not occur by happenstance or simply by rephrasing boilerplate training dogma.
Instead they are the product of experimenting widely in training, carefully monitoring training progress, and then testing the product by competing at the highest level in Ironman events.
M2 Training Principles often run counter to mainstream thought, but frankly, I find that there is a lot to be challenged in conventional training theories and I have always chafed at herd mentality.
Core M2 training principles are described in these articles:
#1: Quality versus Quantity, Less = More
Discusses the need to focus more on the content of your training as opposed to volume.
#2: Training backwards; the Pyramid turned Upside down
Inverts the traditional training pyramid by placing the volume (race- Specific) training at the end of the process as opposed to the beginning.
#3 Rethinking Base Training
Discusses building base not through rote LSD training, but instead by Threshold (enhanced aerobic in M2 parlance) and strength training.
Although I find the ideas in these articles to be very logical and are supported by elite performances, they are radical when it comes to their acceptance in the community of athletes that train for Ironman distance events.
Three factors contribute to athletes difficulty in considering smarter training options, and instead succumbing to the overtraining pervasive to the sport.
- 2.4m + 112m + 26.2m = Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt
- Lack of Knowledge – Triathlon is a relatively new sport and there has not been time sufficient to try, test, and validate different training methods.
- Peer Pressure – Your buddies are doing more miles than you! Oh no!
Those of you who have seen the recent movie the Matrix might appreciate the following quote adaptation:
“The matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now on this very site. You can see it when you go to the pool or when you ride your bike. You can feel it when you go to track, when you go to the gym, when you pay your entry fees. It is the world of excess that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the healthy truth.”
I received a lot of feedback from readers of the two articles. Unbeknownst to many and as in The Matrix, there is an underground cell community of “Less=More” athletes that took pride in reporting to me that they too had enjoyed greater success in Ironman events on drastically reduced training. Some of these reports reminded me of those commercials that show adults sheepishly admitting to eating Frosted Flakes; as if they felt that they were doing something wrong by racing better off of less but more structured training.
Of course there were also those that wrote saying the concepts I introduced were fundamentally unsound, couldn’t work, etc. I suspect that these nay-sayers represent a mix of folks who besides ignoring evidence to the contrary, have never tried another approach to training or whose training acumen is limited to a weekend training certification.
However, there is one point that I think all athletes and coaches can agree on:
Ironman represents a daunting challenge, and a lack of adequate preparation will become painfully obvious during the event. No amount of sheer will and determination will be sufficient to propel one to an inspiring performance if the training has been inadequate.
Hence, the fact that many athletes have turned in significantly better performances while supposedly undertraining demonstrates that conventional Ironman wisdom regarding prerequisite miles needs to be updated.
Quality versus quantity translates into indoor training on the bike for sessions that generally last about 1 hour. To be successful with this principle, one must follow certain critical development steps:
- Acquire a viable indoor trainer; mag trainers are not useful because they do not offer progressive resistance, ie. the harder you pedal the more resistance you encounter. A computrainer is the ideal choice, next best is a windtrainer with fan resistance
- Use a HR monitor, know your lactate threshold, and understand HR zones
- Use a cadence counter
- Devise a training schedule that employs these tools in a logical training progression
Proper implementation of these steps has been tested, proven, and demonstrated to aid elite and age group athletes repeatedly at every distance.
Sport specific strength and more intense threshold-based training are the keys to reaching your endurance potential. It is very logical really; muscles that have been trained to be stronger and faster apply more force and move faster. Apply these revved up muscles to an endurance program that doesn’t deaden the legs and you will move to the next level.