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Monday, January 18, 2010

Endurance Nation

I really like the guys over at Endurance Nation (not that i've ever actually met them - but i like what they're trying to do, their philosophy).  In fact, when i started thinking about the ideas that have become this 'three hours a week' project of mine and began seeing what like-minded information was out in cyberspace - their website was the only endurance sport oriented one that seemed to articulate any of my own thoughts.  They've become quite popular among 'age group', 'real-life' athletes - folks with jobs and families and commitments who still aspire to train for and perform well (amateur age-group competitors) in long course triathlons.  Here is the first part of a three part article they've written for's newsletter.

I encourage you to read this as most of it is just spot on - particularly the idea towards the end about intensity being the best training tool for those on a limited schedule.  The one key difference i have from these folks, however, (obvious to those of you like dave who have been part of this for a while) is the amount of time that needs to be invested.  For example, they talk initially about the fundamental importance of having a program that fits the need of 'real world' athletes (not those that have 30 hours to train a week and who can get 10 hours of sleep a night) and then immediately follow this with examples of 'real world' time commitments:
Your training plan must reflect your reality: training one to two hours per workday, max, with consistent three to four hours per day available on the weekends, maybe.
Holy SH*T! i simply can't imagine finding the time for 11 hours of dedicated training a week (and this is at the LOW end!  the high end in the example is 18 hours!).  It seems to me that this also goes a little against the later thoughts on intensity and efficiency - particularly for those of us who are not genetically gifted in this regard.  When i really have my intensity dialed high at present i can't imagine adding much in way of additional high intensity work time for a given week.  Sure i could spin for several hours in between high intensity sessions, but if this isn't progressively challenging my present 'fitness' in order to cause adaptation, is it, under there ideals, an efficient use of time?

But again, i like these guys and applaud what they're trying to do - i just think that perhaps they haven't bucked conventional wisdom quite as much as they think they have.


  1. Hi,
    Thanks for commenting about your article! Please understand that as primarily Ironman coaches we write from the perspective of Ironman volume. The culture of that distance historically frames the training conversation from the perspective that volume is the only training input. "I have to run 2:30 this Sunday, I rode 5hrs on Sunday, I need to ride 2hrs on Thursday, etc."

    Our contention, and experience is that:

    Your weekday hours are set by life first, a training plan second. In other words, your Wednesday run is 1hr and your Monday swim is 45' because you have an hour to run on Wednesday and the pool is only open for 45' on Monday. You then focus on managing the details of those session within the volume that life gives you.

    On the weekend, most of us have more volume flexibility, but the internal conversation should be "what is the Saturday/Sunday volume I can repeat week after week with minimal impact on the rest of my life?"

    You maintain these separations and perspectives until about 12wk out from your Ironman. Then the distance demands of the race begin to mandate that you sorta have to do that 4-5hr ride, even though it might be outside that repeatable 3hr Saturday ride. But with this method you're only asking permission from your life for 12wks vs 9 months.

    The alternative is that when volume is the only/primary training input, you have people training 15-18hrs per week indoors in February for a race in September.

    That said, yes, we probably should have said 1-1.5hrs per day during the week, not 2hrs :-) The typical, real-world, real-person volume we see from Ironman athletes, training smartly, is 6-8hrs per week for about 5mo of the year, 9-11hrs when it gets warmer, than 12-about 16 per week within 12wks of their race.

    Hope this helps and thanks again for the dialogue!

    Rich Strauss
    Endurance Nation

  2. Wow - I am really into this blog now. I can't believe that being your brother has so many advantages that I am just now taking advantage of. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom in this way.