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The repair took me about six to seven minutes to repair, during which many racers passed me. I had reliable tires but sometimes it is just a matter of luck or lack of. I had a good pace. Being on my own, I controlled my effort and avoided any surges. Unfortunately it began to rain quite heavily at times. It was all that I wished to avoid: a mechanical problem and the rain. The trails transformed into little creeks; my vision through my prescription glasses was just a blurry mess.

Going down wet and slippery rocks on a steep trail is an exercise I don't enjoy and I used extreme caution. The fourth main climb was totally uneventful. I was just getting tired. I was certain to lose quite a bit of time there. Finally the grade of the climb increased, so was the pain in the legs, but I was certain I was making up time. By aid 5, under another round of rain, the volunteers gave me splits: two minutes to Evan Plews and four minutes to Jeremiah.

Even with a carefully negotiated downhill to aid 6 I was glad to hear that Evan closed the gap to Jeremiah and they were just two minutes in front of me. I had almost arrived so I kept the effort to my max capacity. Finally, by the finish line I was second, not too far back from Jeremiah. I hope my legs will feel just as good as for this edition of the Shenandoah Less than three minutes behind Tanguy, Evan Plews took third at , and now needs to win at Fool's Gold to continue his bid for the title.

We made it to the venue in time for the rain to begin. Seems like nearly every trip I make east for racing ends up a muddy mess! Still on Pacific time, I couldn't seem to sleep a wink that night and "woke up" at what seemed like the witching hour.

I got on my bike for a little warm up ride only to discover that I'd inadvertently forgotten my legs in sunny and not so humid Oregon. As we reached the first trail I was behind a few too many folks and lost considerable time on the first descent.

I passed Christian Tanguy fixing a bummer flat on the next downhill. Thank goodness for Michael Simonson racing hard and helping me work it back as he kept hammering up on the road sections. I pressed on and caught Jeremiah Bishop on the next downhill only to go bottle less again as I followed him past the last aid station.

In the confusion over where I might get a bottle, JB got a gap and, again, I missed a feed which turned out to be critical. On the final climb, as I ran out of fuel, Christian finally rode by effortlessly as only he can do! Even more tired than I was when the day began I managed to finish in third place which seemed like a gift under the circumstances. I am hoping for a little rest and acclimation to this time zone will make Fool's Gold a better result, oh, and of course, sunny skies, low humidity and absolutely no rain!

Patrick Blair Adventures for the Cure took the top spot, 12th Overall, at his faithful 32x18 gearing, although threatening to go with a 32x17 next year! Soon after that Ron, Gerry, and I were able to get a small gap on the others and we got into a group with a few geared riders.

The third climb at miles was a brutal one! Ron and I got away from Gerry and we didn't see him again. He is the leader of the series and the championship is next weekend. Gerry was smart to call it a day and save his energy to be fresh for the showdown at Fool's Gold, just in case Ron was able to beat me for the win. On the fourth climb, Ron made a move. I promised myself that I would not let Ron take me outside of my pace like he did to me at the last race.

I was going to make sure that I did both of those perfectly. If I lost after that then so be it. To keep pace I never allowed myself to go above a zone 4 heart rate on any climbs until the last 15 miles when the race really starts and you can let it all out. It was a mile climb with the last 10 being totally ridiculous, especially with the wet conditions.

As I caught geared racers going up the climb, I always asked them how far ahead Ron was. At the start they told me five minutes! Towards the end someone told me two minutes!! I passed him going extra fast and trying to make it look like I was not tired laughing. I was hoping to dash his spirits so that he would not want to chase after me.

I was able to get a gap on him but he rallied and never gave up I thought the major climbing was over after the 20mile climb but I was wrong. There was a significant five-ish mile climb right before the finish! This was actually kind of good for me because I was feeling good.

I passed three more geared riders on this last climb. Then, with just 1. After all of this, I was going to lose because of a flat tire?! I would ride the flat to the finish, surely destroying my wheel in the process, but it would be worth it to win. Fortunately the Stan's Sealant did its job and after only 30 agonizing seconds of listening to the air hiss out of my tire it stopped!! I lost less than five psi and I was rolling again.

Ron Harding, winner of the Hampshire , was not far behind, finishing just three minutes behind Blair. However, unfortunately for Harding, that three minutes would take him out of his duel with the Pfluginator. The two-time defending champion, Gerry Pflug, who dropped out of the race, said, "With my best four NUE Series Races consisting of three wins and a second, the only way I could improve my chances of winning a fourth consecutive NUE Series singlespeed title was to win the Shenandoah race.

But, with a tough field of SS riders and a threat of muddy riding conditions coming from the forecast of heavy rain, I knew winning Shenandoah was going to be hard to do. Additionally, I also knew that the most important race for me to win out of the two would be the Fool's Gold NUE Series Championship Race because it was a designated tie breaker race. I wondered if I should even do Shenandoah a couple of days before the race, so that my legs would be fresher for Fool's Gold.

But, I decided to give it a try to see how my closest competition Ron Harding was riding. The lead between the three of us switched back and forth a few times until the long climb after check point 2. About halfway up this long climb, around mile 40 or so, Pat and Ron pulled away from me and the rain really started to come down hard.

I learned by check point 3 that the fast pair of SS riders ahead of me had already gained four minutes at that point. While riding all alone on a very long paved road section after check point 3, I realized that continuing to race was not the wisest thing for me to do with the championship race less than a week away.

So, I rode into check point four and got directions for the quickest ride from there back to the finishing area. Along the mile ride on paved and gravel roads back to the campground, the rain began coming down super hard again. It was at that point I knew my decision to quit was the best one, since I had more to lose by continuing to race than I had to gain from finishing in any position other than first.

I rolled out with the 8hr slot crew after hitting the water closet a bit too late in the game to line up with the 7hr kids. Rolled out the road and caught on to Matt "Ive got a belt buckle with ma name on it" Ferrari half way up the first fire road climb.

Leading into the steppes of the "Death Climb" I recognized that I had a little more in the tank than Matt, or for whatever reason he was keeping a slower pace than I apparently was capable of, so I stood up on my 32x18 and paced the hell out of that climb. When I was a younger man I used to shake my head in pity when reading the writings of endurance sports experts of a certain age. They tended to repeat the same things over and over, evidently because they had nothing new to say.

At some point, it seemed, they had simply decided they knew their stuff and stopped seeking out new knowledge. These aging authorities struck a sad figure in my eyes. As a young man aspiring to expertise in endurance sports, and who therefore payed close attention to new and recent developments in them, I recognized that certain members of the old guard were being left behind, and worst of all, that they failed to recognize their own waning relevance.

With the boldness of youth, I vowed never to put myself in such a pathetic position. Time flies, and now I am a man of a certain age. And, God help me, I feel myself slipping a bit knowledge-wise. Granted, age is not the only factor in my case but also illness. For many years I relied on my own training and racing to stimulate new learning. Long covid has stripped me of my ability to do these things, forcing me to look elsewhere for knowledge. I can feel my brain slowly transforming from an absorbent sponge into an impenetrable fortress, a normal part of aging.

I have less and less patience for technology, for example. True to his scientific leanings, Skiba takes a bottom-up approach to explicating how to train for endurance racing, going from physiology to intensities to workout types to periodization.

Indeed, Skiba has a special gift for making science understandable to the layperson, of which I am one. My favorite passage in the entire book is his house metaphor of endurance fitness, which goes like this:. The foundation is your basic strength and resilience. The roofline is your VO 2 max. The top of the roof is your peak power output. You walk into your house, and mark your height on the wall. With time, as you train, you grow taller. In the beginning, the whole house grows with you.

However, what you will find is that with time you will begin to bump your head against the ceiling. You need to do some specific renovations on the house to raise the ceiling so that you can continue to grow. However, what you will quickly find is that you are squeezing the ceiling too close to the attic above. Eventually, you need to raise the attic as well. With his focus on the power-duration curve, which represents fitness in terms of how long an individual athlete can sustain a given power output or velocity across the spectrum of effort levels, Skiba approaches the problem of developing race-specific fitness through the same lens as the likes of Stryd, Alan Couzens, and yours truly.

And you can soon expect Dr. Among the benefits of traveling internationally is that it gives you a different perspective on your own country. The most fattening characteristic of any diet is how processed its constituent foods are, and the Kenyan diet is minimally processed.

The other reason is that there are no food commercials on Kenyan television. And it has an effect. By the end of my stay, I found myself thinking about food a lot less than I did back home. I thought of this experience recently when, against my better judgment, I waded into an online debate about fasted workouts. I was up against two separate factions in this debate, both of which viewed fasted workouts as extreme and radical, each in a different way.

One faction regarded the practice of completing a workout on an empty stomach as a kind of torture—a gratuitous sufferfest ending in degrees of exhaustion never approached in regular workouts. This is absurd. A fit and well-nourished athlete who chooses to delay breakfast until after a workout is only minimally compromised by having their metabolic fuel tanks less than fully topped up.

The science is rather abundant in this area. For example, in a study by Australian researchers, trained cyclists completed minute time trials in fasted and non-fasted conditions, averaging watts after a good breakfast and watts on empty stomachs. In prolonged exercise bouts, the impact of skipping breakfast is greater but still far milder than some athletes seem to believe. A study by Tim Noakes and colleagues found that moderately trained subjects lasted an average of minutes in a time-to-exhaustion cycling test at 70 percent of VO 2 max in the fed state compared to minutes in the fasted state.

In practical terms, this means you should feel no more fatigued at the end of a mile fasted training run than you would be at the end of a Why, then, do some athletes regard fasted workouts as extreme? Another thing that Kenya has a lot less of than America does is disordered eating. Not all pockets of American society have high rates of eating disorders, but endurance sport is one pocket that does. Research has shown that people who struggle with disordered eating tend to have a history of trying popular diets e.

Fasted workouts fit this mold. They are the type of practice that certain athletes are drawn to for the wrong reasons. Because this risk exists, a certain faction within the endurance sports community believes that fasted workouts should not be promoted. But to me this is like banning automobiles because some people drive while impaired. Depriving all athletes of the opportunity to benefit from this practice is unfair to the majority of athletes who are at low risk of developing an eating disorder and it is also not a legitimate solution to the problem of disordered eating within the athletic community.

For everyone else—including all youth athletes—they can wait, and for those who have any kind of history of disordered eating or any reason to believe they might be at risk for it, they can wait forever. By way of closing, I would just like to mention that in Kenya, for cultural rather than scientific reasons, most runners do their first and hardest run of the day before breakfast every single day.

Someone needs to tell them how radical and extreme this practice is so they can stop doing it and finally get good at running! As the name suggests, means attachment entails becoming attached to particular means of achieving goals or outcomes. For example, an athlete might decide he wants a low-volume, high-intensity training approach to prepare him optimally for races and will stick with this approach despite repeatedly hitting the wall far short of the finish line.

Or an athlete might decide he wants a low-carb diet to increase his endurance by boosting his fat-burning capacity and will stick with it despite consistently feeling sluggish during workouts and recovering slowly between them. In its essence, means attachment is a form of mental laziness. It stems from a natural desire to discover what works and then be done with it, trusting the chosen means to deliver the desired results without any need to evaluate, learn, and adapt.

The most insidious manifestations of means attachment are weddedness to plans and the so-called hard work security blanket. The hard work security blanket is a tendency to regard and treat workouts as the only factors affecting fitness and performance, hence to prioritize them above rest, sleep, life balance, etcetera. The classic scenario entails the emergence of pain during a critical period of training.

Athletes who carry a hard work security blanket and are prone to training plan weddedness are unlikely to do the prudent thing in these scenarios, attempting to train through the niggle instead of training around it, often with disastrous consequences. Thought so. That athlete was none other than Jessica Schnier, our current Coaches of Color Initiative coaching apprentice. Jessica was seven weeks away from her first mile trail ultramarathon when she arrived in Austin and had a big weekend of training on the calendar.

But during a speed workout with the group she developed pain in her right ankle. Sounds so simple, right? The same impulse that persuades most athletes to go ahead and train through niggles tried to persuade Jessica to do the same, but she resisted it. The morning after her self-imposed day off, I checked in with Jessica at breakfast.

She said the ankle was feeling somewhat better and she planned to test it out with a bit of light jogging while moving from point to point of the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon racecourse, cheering on camp attendees who were competing. It would have been easy for her to get sucked into doing more, especially if the ankle felt good, but again she resisted. The weekend concluded with her having logged roughly two miles of the twenty-six that had been on her calendar.

One week after her niggle first announced itself, I checked in with Jessica again on the status of her ankle, this time via text message. No issues on my runs this week so far. All it requires is that you listen to your inner voice of reason when making decisions such as whether to training through a niggle. We all have this voice. Give yours the deciding vote when making your next important athletic decision.

When I was fourteen years old I suffered a catastrophic knee injury during a soccer game. Nor did I reflect on why it felt right to pursue this goal; it just did. In my fifty years on earth I have never met anyone who despised toxic masculinity or machismo, as we called it in more than my father, who was as you would expect my primary male role model. He reacted with visceral disgust when other men exhibited the worst traits of our sex.

So no, my commitment to dry eyes had nothing to do with restrictive gender norms. In hindsight, I think it had more to do with the fact that I had been a crybaby earlier in my youth. Indeed, the vow I made not to cry after my knee injury was not my first such vow. I know this because it happens every day. But not today! Sure enough, Josh was mean to me that afternoon, and I did not cry. My assigned torturer was a young PT with leading-man looks that belied an iron grip. When I came out of the cast six weeks post-surgery I had a degree range of motion in my left knee, as compared to degrees in my right knee.

My handsome persecutor achieved the desired outcome by placing me facedown on a padded table, seizing my shank in two strong hands, and throwing his full weight and strength into pressing my heel toward my butt. He might as well have been trying to force a loaf of bread into a pickle jar. The joint did not budge. Paul grunted and wheezed with the effort. Gruesome popping and crackling sounds issued from the knee. The pain was indescribable, like being flayed alive.

Yet I was determined not to cry. As Paul continued to press down on me, I squeezed my eyeballs so hard that, had they been coals, they would have become diamonds. Every muscle in my body contracted. My top and bottom teeth soldered themselves together.

Understand that I have nothing against crying in principle. When my beloved dog Queenie died a few months ago, I wept a few times. I mean, why not me? My latest ordeal has been a thousand times worse than the ACL episode, yet not once during my sixteen-month struggle with long covid have I been even tempted to cry for myself. I suppose my prior vows have been internalized to the point where not giving in to self-pity has become second nature. We each have our own coping style, and mine includes a certain stoicism, a stiff upper lip.

It was for this purpose that I sat down with my wife last week to watch the new film Salt in My Soul , which documents the life and death of Mallory Smith, a California girl who at age three was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a disease that no long-hauler in their right mind would ever trade for. I was duly humbled by the joy and generosity Mallory was able to manifest in her brief and tormented existence.

As the movie ended, I made a new vow to myself, to try to be a bit more like Mallory going forward. And yes, I was in tears, but so was my wife, and neither of us was crying for me. Although the text of the tweet conveys the impression that the findings are all over the map, honestly, if I knew nothing about endurance training and I read this review I would come away feeling quite confident that I would get good results from a high-volume, mostly low-intensity training approach, regardless of my specific sport or current phase of training.

This tweet includes a link to a new study involving endurance kayakers that Sperlich conducted with three other researchers. My takeaway as a coach is to avoid mixing and matching intensity metrics in measuring TID.

This tweet links to the same study as the previous one. On the basis of their findings, Sperlich et al. For example, I might give a runner a power-based hill repetitions run on Tuesday, a heart-rate based easy run on Wednesday, and a pace-based tempo run on Thursday. This is somewhat different from using different intensity metrics to monitor and regular intensity balance, though. This tweet includes a link to another study involving elite paddle sports competitors.

But again, all of the athletes spent the bulk of their time at low intensity in all phases. A polarized TID is one in which little time is spent at moderate intensity. This tweet links to a study coauthored by Sperlich that describes and validates a tool called the polarization index, which quantifies the degree of polarization in a given period of training.

This tool is useful in determining how effective a polarized approach to TID is compared to other approaches. The primary alternative to a polarized approach to TID is a pyramidal approach, wherein more time is spent at moderate intensity than at high intensity. This tweet links to a prospective, controlled study, again coauthored by Sperlich, in which elite rowers were separated into two groups, one of which trained with a polarized intensity balance while the other trained with a pyramidal intensity balance for eleven weeks.

At the elite level, both polarized and pyramidal training are dominated by low-intensity training. There seems to be a theme emerging here. This tweet links to an interesting study published last year that explored the influence of non-scheduled activity on training intensity balance, training volume, and performance in elite male rowers. In essence, Sperlich and his collaborators sought to find out what difference it makes, if any, if daily activities outside of formal workouts are measured the same way formal workouts are.

What they found was that such activities had a small but statistically significant impact on training volume and TID but no impact on performance. This point is underscored by the fact that there is no study linked to from the tweet! Kudos to Sperlich for drawing attention to the problem. This specific low:high-intensity TID may work in one sport or for one athlete or during a certain period of the season but is far from the obtained data of the last years and surely no universal best-practice TID.

Am I wrong to feel personally targeted by this one? In short, the ideal balance of training intensities is a narrow range rather than a precise ratio. But that range may be slightly different for individual runners. A few runners respond better if they do a little less or a little more of their training at low intensity. Scientists are understandably uncomfortable with this reality, but it is the reality.

I agree. But who is actually suggesting that single-case observational studies of training intensity balance in elite athletes are a blueprint for all athletes? This statement seems to suggest that coaches need to start completely from scratch with each new athlete, behaving as if nothing that any athlete has ever done before has any relevance whatsoever to the next athlete to come along. And yes, I do believe that elite best practices are the best starting point.

Also missing from the thread is any kind of nod to the reality that the vast majority of recreational endurance athletes do not have one-on-one coaches. To be more specific, the typical recreational endurance athlete is caught in the moderate-intensity, doing far too little training at low intensity. Most of them also feel better in training and enjoy the process more, and many report a reduction in injury frequency.

Of course not. There is another level, and it is the personalized approach Sperlich advocates. One additional nugget of advice I would offer to aging endurance athletes is this: Assume nothing. By this I mean that you must not assume you will slow down, or your training capacity will decrease, as you get older. Just keep chugging along as though you are immune to the laws of nature that affect other aging athletes and see what happens.

I first heard this advice many years ago from Dave Scott, the legendary six-time Ironman world champion. When Scott was twenty-eight he told his girlfriend Linda Buchanan that he wanted to be even fitter at forty than he was then. Well, he got his wish. In , three months shy of his forty-first birthday, Scott narrowly missed winning a seventh Ironman title, finishing a close second to thirty-year-old Greg Welch.

Psychologists have demonstrated that expectations of all kinds tend to be self-fulfilling. Some even talk about aging as an advantage. It is an inexorable biological process ending in death. Athletes who extend their peak performance years into their forties by virtue of high expectations are not defying the laws of nature. If it were not physically possible to set an American record at thirty-eight, Sara Hall would not have done so. In continuing to improve as they approach middle age, the Sara Halls of the world are merely exploiting a possibility that exists in all of us.

The purpose of the study was to identify differences in how older and younger athletes tolerate and recover from high-intensity interval training. Two groups of twelve well-trained cyclists and triathletes, one with an average age of twenty-four and the other with an average age of forty-seven, completed a series of HIIT sessions.

During and after each workout, a variety of physiological measurements were taken in an effort to assess how stressful the interval set was for the individual and how quickly the athlete recovered. For example, the researchers looked at the rate at which lactate was cleared from the bloodstream during recovery intervals.

Findings like this one suggest that, for athletes over forty who experience a marked decline in performance, the flesh is willing but the spirit is weak. I coach regular folks. The intensity of the workouts drops off as people age. They allow it to. Having raced my first Ironman at thirty-one, I completed my fastest Ironman at forty-eight.

Having raced my first marathon at twenty-eight, I completed my fastest marathon at forty-six. And having raced my first 10K at twelve, I completed my fastest one at forty-nine. I repeat: Assume nothing! An anonymous source within Taco Bell shared the reasoning behind what industry analysts are calling a baffling over-reaction by the eatery.

Taco Bell executives publicly denied the move was designed to challenge the endurance fitness company. Fitzgerald placed his head on the podium and wept. At stake is the discretionary income of athletes around the world. Russell Partnership Collection, a UK-based food consultancy practice, questioned both the move by Taco Bell and the need to report this story.

Correction: An earlier version of this story claimed that Mr. Warden is 5 feet 11 inches tall. His actual height appears to be 5 feet 1 inch. Correction: An earlier correction to this story speculated Mr. A spokesman for Mr. Like a lot of children of the s, I grew up mostly outdoors.

Perhaps it was different in the big city, but in the piney woods of southern New Hampshire where I was raised, kids had to find their own fun, yet there was plenty of fun to be found if you looked hard enough. What made me different from, and even more active than, my hyperkinetic peers was my father, who was quite the fitness buff. In , when I was eleven, he ran his first marathon. The next day I went out and ran six miles—monkey see, monkey do.

Two days later, I did it again, and so on. Special Forces Physical Conditioning Program. That blond boy was me, and I not only helped my dad with the photoshoot but I also completed the full twelve-week workout program despite having zero interest in joining the military. In short, I got a lot of exercise in my youth, and as a result I was quite fit.

Having never known anything else, I did not fully appreciate my fitness, however, until years later, when I lost it. Not some of it but all of it, and not gradually but all at once. October 6, , was the day I first noticed something was wrong. Long covid tossed those ambitions out the window, but I held on to as much fitness as I could for as long as I could, continuing to run albeit slowly, and never very far for another twelve weeks until I was forced to pull the plug.

As recently as October , more than a year into my long-haul journey, I was walking four miles a day and lifting weights four about twenty minutes most days. Then one day it occurred to me that every athlete I knew of who had recovered from long covid had gone for an extended period of time without engaging in physical exertion of any kind, in most cases involuntarily, being bedridden.

Having nothing to lose, I stopped walking and lifting weights, becoming wholly sedentary for the first time in my half-century on earth. Most days my long-covid symptoms are severe enough that whatever else is going on inside my body passes unnoticed. One thing I noticed in the early days of my plunge into hardcore endurance training in my late twenties was that the fitter I got, the better I felt, not just during exercise but all day every day.

When I was fit enough to run 50 miles over mountains without stopping, I felt like a man who could run 50 miles over mountains without stopping. Even when sitting quietly with a book in my hand I was aware of an inner vitality so volcanically intense I half-believed I could open a window and fly away like Peter Pan. Having lost this precious feeling, probably forever, I look back on it now as the single greatest benefit of being aerobically fit.

Strangely, though, nobody ever talks about it. Think about it: What tempts people to try psychoactive drugs? Do me a favor: The next time you find yourself in conversation with a couch potato at a social gathering, and the topic of your endurance hobby comes up, casually mention how wonderful it feels to be aerobic fit. See how they react, and report back to me. In , the journal Psychology published a study on device dependency in runners.

I now put a slightly different question to you: If every modern sports watch on earth suddenly vanished, leaving behind only old-school stopwatches to use in your training, would your training be negatively affected? In other words, do you feel you need your current training device to train effectively? As a coach, I believe every athlete should be able to train just as effectively without a fancy sports tracker as they do with it.

All will be made clear if you bear with me. Consider the thesaurus—that big compendium of words with similar meanings. A thesaurus can be a lifesaver for writers who, in the process of composing a blog post or whatever, suddenly forget a word they know, or who wish to avoid overusing a word in a certain context by mixing things up with a synonym. As useful as it is, however, the thesaurus does not have the power to turn a bad writer into a good one. In fact, the best use this resource is made by the best writers—those who could get by just fine without it.

When bad writers lean on the thesaurus, you can tell—the words they choose leap off the page like mad libs, not quite fitting. Almost by definition, an athlete who depends on their device to pace their workouts and races is not good at pacing. Worse, these same athletes are actually being held back from becoming good at pacing by this very dependency.

Amir completed a set of speed intervals on his indoor bike. Minutes later my phone notified me that the workout had been uploaded. When I analyzed the data, I saw a massive spike in power at the start of each interval before Amir settled back into the correct wattage zone. Knowing the answer, I asked Amir what was behind those crazy spikes. Can you guess? Yet he acted as though he believed the number on the computer was more real than what his body was doing.

Like most device-dependent athletes, Amir probably thought his power meter was helping him pace his workout, and in a limited sense it was. But in a greater sense it was holding him back, sort of like how training wheels hold a young cyclist back from learning how to stay upright on their own.

Again, my point is not that training devices are bad and should never be used by anyone. However, the workout performances upon which my goal was based had been achieved in regular racing flats, whereas on race day I wore carbon-plated super shoes, and I quickly discovered that the high-tech footwear made per mile feel more like per mile. Had I trusted my Garmin more than I did my ability to read my body, I probably would have stuck with my original goal pace. I define pacing as the art of finding your limit, and in this race I found my limit in the only way an athlete ever can, which is by knowing subjectively what the body can do and then doing it through precise self-regulation.

As a coach, I want every athlete to reach this level of pacing mastery, and it drives me nuts that so many athletes are willingly allowing device dependency to stand in the way. The advantage I had as compared to many athletes is that I had accumulated many years of experience in training and racing without a smartwatch before these products came on market.

Consequently, I was the boss of my chosen gadgets from day one, as one must be to benefit from their use. If I were the king of endurance sports and could rule athlete behavior by fiat, I would require that each beginner train for one full year with nothing more than an old-fashion stopwatch before they are allowed to begin training with a smartwatch.

As you might expect, working on this project has afforded me the opportunity to reflect deeply on my philosophy of coaching. Are you ready? Here it is:. From a remote perspective, the entire history of endurance sports training can be seen as one big trial-and-error learning experiment. In the early days of running, swimming, cycling, and other endurance disciplines, nobody knew what the hell they were doing as far as training was concerned.

Athletes tried all kinds of things in search of better performance, learning as they went. One such athlete was Walter George, an Englishman who is remembered as the greatest amateur runner of the late s and early s. On the strength of this goofily minimalist program, George set amateur world records of His success led to widespread adoption of the Up exercise, whose propagation was aided by the enthusiastic evangelism of its inventor. As the years went by and improvements became harder to come by, George added more and more actual running to his routine.

Date Morning Afternoon. Did not run. Athletes kept trying different things, and when a new thing seemed to work better than an old thing, the latter was discarded in favor of the former. Yet endurance training remains a never-ending experiment for each individual athlete.

If one step in the wrong direction is only human, two steps is unforgivable. Fool me twice, shame on me. Her intuition tells her that overdistance long runs i. A better coach in this situation will acknowledge the error and try something else—perhaps back-to-back long runs, or depletion runs, or extra mileage spread evenly across the week.

Did you ever play the Hot and Cold game as a kid? As a refresher, one player hides an object and the other player wanders around with their eyes closed, trying to find it. Endurance training is like that. In fact, it takes a moron to fail! Few runners spend much time thinking about pacing. The purpose of this article is to explain what pacing is.

Having a clear understanding of this vital running skill will aid your efforts to master it. Sound good? Imagine you are standing before a ditch. On the other side of the ditch is a piping hot burrito, and you happen to be quite hungry. Thus, you feel strongly incentivized to leap the ditch. Should you risk it or should you not? In this hypothetical scenario, your ultimate decision on whether to jump is based on internal knowledge of your leaping ability, particularly the limit of your jumping range.

Pacing is very much the same. During each race, runners continuously, tacitly assess the sustainability of their present effort. In other words, pacing is just another way in which humans regulate goal-directed behavior based on internal knowledge of their physical limits.

But a marathon consists of approximately 55, small leaps, and to achieve the goal of covering the full distance in the least time possible, every single one of these 55, baby jumps must be paced in a manner that contributes to this goal. Nevertheless, the formula for success is the same. What makes these runners different? In my experience, pacing masters are more focused and mindful in assessing the sustainability of their present effort.

All runners are conscious of their effort level when running, but whereas most runners have a passive relationship to this sensation, pacing masters actively study their effort perceptions, and they do so not just here and there but consistently, and as a result they get better and better at interpreting what they are feeling, and their intuitions about how sustainable their efforts are become more and more accurate.

To some runners, this explanation is highly unsatisfying. They want the secret to better pacing to be some simple hack or device feature that essentially takes the responsibility of making good pacing decisions off their shoulders.

If I could give you a more satisfying explanation of what it takes to pace effectively without lying to you, I would. But the cold, hard truth is that everything you need to know to pace yourself effectively is contained in your effort perceptions, and there is no substitute. The difference between pacing masters and other runners is not that pacing masters are incapable of pacing errors. Doing so stimulates conditional learning, enabling you to avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over.

Because they have experienced a similar level of effort before with about 4. Understand that there is seldom any conceptual thinking involved in such decisions, much less calculation. You can do this! Stay tuned to this space for more information, and in the meantime, remember the ditch analogy. Call me strange, but I love building training plans. They have a fixed duration, a fixed weekly workout schedule, a fixed volume progression — everything about them is fixed.

Some degree of post-selection customization is almost always required to take a readymade training plan from almost perfect to perfect. The most common issues are as follow:. In most cases, this is the easiest type of adjustment to make. When shuffling workouts around, be sure to insert at least one lighter day of training between days containing long endurance sessions, high-intensity intervals, or any other workouts expected to result in a high level of fatigue.

The other key principle is balance, according to which the various workout types should be distributed as evenly as possible throughout the week. In adjusting your training plan to fit your schedule, avoid setting up your week so that you swim on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, bike on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and run on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!

How should you fill the time? Examples of such alternative priorities are strength training, technique work, and dietary improvements. If your plan is 17 weeks long, for example, and your race is 15 weeks away, go ahead and start at Week 3. When you find yourself in this type of situation, your best move is to modify the first few weeks of the plan, beginning at the point where you pick it up, in such a way as to give yourself a chance to catch up to the training.

Returning to the example I gave above, suppose Week 3 of the plan includes a high-intensity interval workout and a tempo workout, but your recent training has consisted entirely of low-intensity work. The ideal timing for such events is in recovery weeks, where they simply replace the workouts planned for that particular weekend.

The two days preceding the race should also be replaced with lighter training, and the three days immediately following the race should be replaced with a combination of rest and lighter training. In these cases, dialing back the training that precedes and follows the event is likely to result in too much time away from harder training, especially when the week in question comes right before or right after a designated recovery week.

To avoid this issue, make your adjustments more nuanced with half-recovery weeks i. When you know ahead of time that your training is going to be restricted during a certain period, your best strategy is to bookend this period with sensibly modified training. For example, suppose you are following a triathlon training plan and you are planning to take your family on vacation to Yosemite National Park during Week 9.

In this seven-day period, you will be able to squeeze in a little running but your swim and bike training will be paused. In this scenario, it would be wise to reduce your run training and increase your swim and bike training in the week that immediately precedes your vacation as well as in the week that immediately follows it. These adjustments will not only minimize any negative effect of the trip on your swim and bike fitness but should also help you worry less about it. It sure would be nice if there were another option — some kind of app that creates training plans that are not only fully customized to you at the outset but also adapts over time based on changes in your availability, fitness, and goals.

Guess what: this option now exists! The app is called PACE , and I am proud to be one of the coaches involved in creating the adaptive training plans it provides. The app is for runners only initially, but plans for other athlete types will be added soon. Learn more about PACE here.

Recently I had a disturbing experience on social media. I know, I know. Join the club, right? But I held back from taking the even more drastic step of closing my accounts because I kind of need them for business reasons. This left the door open for the mindless savagery of the medium to seek me out, which is precisely what happened last week.

It began innocently enough. Studies suggest that consuming fluid and carbohydrate enhances performance only in races lasting longer than about an hour. Amused by these droll phrases, the athlete shared them on social media.

Minutes after my decontextualized words were broadcast behind my back, my phone started blowing up. After some initial confusion, I came to the alarming realization that I had become the subject of an unprovoked attack by a virtual mob of outraged athletes accusing me of elitism, judgmentalism, and snobbery. It takes place in the fictional Indian Village of Kokilhat, where a visiting politician watches in horror as a Hindu mob brutally murders a Muslim man falsely accused of killing a cow and eating its beef.

By no means am I equating the severity of this imagined incident with that of my online character assassination, but the underlying instinct is identical. The selfsame delirious, hive-minded lust to harm the outsider that drove a horde of bigoted villagers to drag an innocent religious minority down from the thatched roof of his family hut and crush his skull under their boots drove an internet posse of aggrieved fluid-belt wearers to collectively cancel me for.

Elitism, yes, but what flavor? Had any of my verbal assailants taken the time to level a formal charge against me, I believe I would have been accused of trying to shame slower runners for being slow. This conjecture is based on a reasonable assumption that the practice of wearing a fluid belt in 5K races is perceived as a symbol of being a slower runner. Does that sound like a book that a pair of speed elitists would write?

Passion should. Perhaps the best summation of my professional mission comes not from me but from Knox Robinson , as quoted in my memoir, Life Is a Marathon. Knox sat with the question for a while before he answered. Which brings us back to the statement that I was recently pilloried for on social media. It is a simple scientific fact that carrying and consuming fluid during a 5K running event is completely unnecessary, and not only unnecessary but self-sabotaging, from a performance perspective.

There is such a thing as reverse elitism. It manifests in a very of ways, one of which is a tendency to presume that people who have more of something desirable than you do money, beauty, education, athletic ability, whatever look down on those who have less of it. Elitism is real, and it is lame. I have zero respect for the pimple-faced trolls on letsrun.

But reverse elitism is equally lame and pervasive, and I have no more respect for the passive-aggressive social media vigilantes who baselessly lumped me in with the letsrun trolls than I have for the trolls themselves. The point of this 1,word rant? I once coached a runner who had a strong desire to impress me. I felt two ways about these moments. Generally speaking, we try to impress those whose good opinion we value.

On the other hand, it troubled me that the runner assumed I or any coach would be impressed with fast workout times. To me it betrayed a poor understanding of what coaches—good coaches, anyway—want to see from their athletes. So eventually I spoke up, explaining to the runner that, short of breaking a world record, there was nothing he could possibly do performance-wise in a workout that would impress me and he should stop trying.

The way I see it, putting up strong numbers in workouts is, above all, evidence of a natural gift, and a natural gift is just that: a gift. To the extent that I am capable of being impressed by fast running, I am impressed by the gift giver God, nature, whatever , not the recipient.

Currently I coach a half-dozen athletes, ranging from twenty-something elites to fifty-something mid-packers, and all six of them impress me with approximately equal frequency. In two ways: by making smart decisions and by showing grit. With few exceptions, whenever my reflexive emotional response to something an athlete has done contains elements of admiration, respect, and pride, the athlete has either made a smart decision or shown grit.

Smart decisions impress me because few athletes make smart decisions consistently, and few things have a greater positive impact on fitness and athletic development. To be clear, masochistic or macho displays of toughness do nothing for me, but when an athlete does something like find a parking garage in which to perform a set of hill reps when an ice storm makes it impossible for her to run in the usual places true story , my heart swells with pride. Focus instead on making smart decisions and being gritty when grit is called for.

Nothing else you might do in your training will make your coach happier, and quite apart from that, being smart and gritty will benefit your long-term athletic development far more than showing off in select workouts. No one ever regrets attending an endurance training camp.

Do you want your to include an experience you will treasure for the rest of your days? If you need more persuading, read on. In the wake of this calamity, team member Stephanie Bruce invited me to participate in the adult running camp that she and her husband, Ben, were hosting that weekend, as a way to take my mind off my injury. I went for another long walk with Nataki this morning, my injured groin grabbing warningly a few times as we went.

When we got back to the house I emailed Coach Ben to request that we meet as soon as possible after his return from Malaysia to discuss the way forward in my training. I killed the next hour like the injured fake pro runner I was, sandwiching a round of rehab exercises between contrast-therapy treatments, and then drove to Hypo2 for yet another appointment with AJ. AJ was very pleased. Swallowing the urge to protest, I dutifully ran the cold laser on my reddened inner thigh for 10 minutes.

I bent my left leg sharply and swung it out to the side like a dog watering a fire hydrant. AJ then applied gentle hand pressure to the knee, his eyebrows raised inquisitively. I shook my head, so he applied a little more pressure.

I shook my head again and AJ pressed down even harder. You might even find that running loosens it up a bit. The topic du jour was mental toughness. A camper named Amanda raised her hand and asked Steph what she tells herself during difficult moments in a race. Anyway, I usually think of lines from Rocky movies.

Ben explained that the exercises Wes was about to teach us would all be bodyweight movements we could do at home without equipment, or using household items for resistance. I found my fellow campers in the backyard eating pizza and drinking beer and wine. After sunset we drifted over to an area where camp chairs had been arranged around a bonfire.

Steph invited everyone to write down their A, B, and C goals on a notecard and then share them with the group. When my turn came, I told my fellow campers I was training for the Chicago Marathon and that my C goal was to run my fastest marathon since my fastest marathon nine years ago, my B goal was to beat that nine-year-old personal best, and my A goal was to do something that made other runners believe they could achieve their own A goals.

Next up was Donna, a year-old Californian who started running just two years ago and has already completed six marathons. The instant she opened her mouth, her eyes filled and a soblike sound escaped her. Mary stood and led me into the darkness away from the fire. When she was satisfied we were fully out of earshot, she opened up.

I speak the language. That was my passion for a long time—Spanish dancing. But then I got away from it. That was okay, though, because I still had running. I love it. I get injured. I spend the whole summer just catching up. Then I get hurt again. I work from home, making competitive dance costumes. We returned to the circle, where Steph had the campers write down their greatest fear, share it with the group if they were comfortable doing so, and toss into the bonfire.

Ready to experience some camp magic of your own? Click here. Fifty years ago, a runner who had been doing all of his recent training before the sun rose shifted to a new schedule that had him running later in the morning. To his surprise, his first several daylight runs felt harder than normal, and it took him longer to complete his usual routes. This was before speed and distances devices existed, so completion times were the only practical means of measuring performance away from the track.

But then he caught himself, laughing inwardly at his momentary loss of reason. Running is running , he remembered. Instead of wasting energy worrying about it, Bob realized, he should just keep running and trust that his body would soon adjust.

Fifty years later, a different runner, Sally, had a similar experience. Like Bob, Sally did all of her training before the sun rose but then shifted to a new schedule that had her running later in the morning. The four key elements of this system, according to Friedman and Khan, are 1 the belief among clinicians that more intervention yields better outcomes, 2 so-called diagnosis creep, whereby the definition of injury keeps expanding, 3 the widespread commercialization of sports medicine and injury treatment, and 4 increased accessibility of sports medicine and injury treatment services.

Better safe than sorry, right? The overmedicalization of athletic pain and injury causes a good deal of harm, and in more than one way. Second, the imaging and other diagnostic tests used to slap labels on pain experiences are wildly unreliable, producing scandalous amounts of false positives. These false positives, in turn, cause stress and anxiety and lower outcome expectations, which become self-fulfilling.

At first blush, all of this business about athletic pain and overmedicalization might seem to have nothing to do with Bob and Sally, our two hypothetical runners who had difficulty adjusting to a shift in their daily run time. In fact, though, it has everything to do with it.

Increasingly, the devices that athletes use to monitor and regulate their training are doing the same thing doctors and diagnostic tests do to athletes. Worse, at the same time these devices raise mostly false alarms, they insidiously drain athletes of their autonomy, lulling them into placing more and more trust into the plastic oracles on their wrists and less and less into their own perceptions and judgments.

The most self-trusting athletes are the most successful athletes, plain and simple. And self-trusting athletes have a high threshold for becoming alarmed. Like anyone else, they pay attention and notice things, but they shrug off most aberrations. In the old days, before the advent of sophisticated sports trackers, athletes had little choice but to allow small imperfections in their training to resolve themselves, or not.

Nowadays, only the most self-trusting of athletes are able to resist sweating the small stuff, because temptations to do so have become almost atmospherically ubiquitous, a digital torrent of alerts and warnings and disappointing numbers to worry about shoved in our faces by our Garmins and Polars and Suuntos and Whatevers.

They push back on the notion that there is harm in taking each and every device warning seriously. I call this hoarder logic. Have you ever tried to reason with a hoarder? You choose an object from the pile and ask them if they really need to keep it. They respond with a pretty solid reason for keeping it. You then choose a second object from the pile—and a third, and a fourth—and they do the same, winning every battle yet losing the war.

Analytical reductionists are the hoarders of the sports realm. Again, this impulse stems from a lack of self-trust. If I were alone in my railing, this speculation might be worth entertaining, but in fact I am not alone. As I have taken pains to point out in past articles, growing numbers of scientists—the kind who are capable of big-picture, systemic thinking—are sounding the alarm as well.

Remember Bob? But he was better off for it, at least compared to Sally and her fellow endurance athletes of today, who are data-driven without even realizing it. How do you know if you are data-driven or merely data-informed? If you are confident that this compromise would have little or no impact on your fitness development or competitive performances, then you are in control of your training and are not data-driven.

Never fear! Fast forward a few months, and our very first title is about to be released! Through his trademark mix of science and storytelling, Matt will convince you of the importance of pacing and guide you toward pacing mastery. On Pace also includes complete training plans for the 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon distances that develop pacing skill while also getting you race-ready. Online versions of these plans are available for individual purchase. Not to be confused with the book just described, PACE which stands for Personal Adaptive Coaching Experience is a smartphone app developed by TrainingPeaks that uses artificial intelligence to create personalized, adaptive training plans for runners.

Among the five coaches that TrainingPeaks chose to launch with is our own Matt Fitzgerald. Learn more here. And then there were four. A native of Australia, Leyla now lives in North Carolina with her husband and year-old son. Having swum competitively in her youth, she discovered triathlon in For the last several years, Leyla has coached fellow triathletes through Flow Multisport. As our director of training, Leyla will be involved in managing, improving, and expanding all of our training products and services.

We all know swimming is different from other endurance sports. Whereas cycling and running are all about fitness, swimming is mostly about technique. High-quality videos will guide you through every exercise and drill. The first grant recipient will be announced on December 1 st , and the apprenticeship will last the entire calendar year. Donations are always welcome. To make a contribution, apply for an apprenticeship grant, or just learn more about COCI, visit foundation.

What are you planning to do on Saturday, January 15, ? Unless you already have that date blacked out for space tourism, we suggest you spend it with us at The Endurance Event, an incredible online learning experience for athletes, coaches, and other hungry minds. The Endurance Event is the perfect way to start the coming race season.

Fill your brain with cutting-edge information on training, diet and nutrition, mental fitness, and tech, and come away fired up to make your best year yet! Tickets to the first part of the half-day event are free, and the cost of attending the full event is way less than that of a new pair of running shoes.

Help us make it a success so we can do it again every year! For complete information about The Endurance Event and to register, click here. Or would you rather travel to a stunning endurance destination and immerse yourself in a pro-style training experience?

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