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By Head Coach Scotty Farrell.
Jack Johnson wrote a song about Bruce Lee. He changed the word ‘Bruce’ to ‘everyone’. But essentially, the song (called ‘Inaudible Melodies’) was all about how Bruce Lee was moving too fast for the speed of the camera shutters at the time. Imagine being that well practiced the camera couldn’t keep up? Do you think Bruce Lee started out at lightning speed? Or do you think that lightning speed came from years upon years of laying the foundations and building some slick neural patterns ?My guess is the latter.
What’s your point Farrell? I hear you saying.
Well... one of, if not the biggest things I see with athletes is this want to operate in the grey zone. Too fast to be easy, and too slow to be hard. A no mans land if you will, probably where you’ll find yourself during a marathon or Ironman - which is perfect for race day... training, not so much. The hard thing for us athletes, and coaches, is finding that zone of optimal easy endurance. Given, the majority of our training across the years is spent here (~80%), it’s important we get it right, right?
So, how do we nail it and make sure we are operating at a truly easy endurance effort, and not pushing that little bit too far into the grey zone?Without diving into a full blown lecture on ventilatory and lactate thresholds, let’s just say there are two important markers for endurance athletes, VT1/LT1 and VT2/LT2. The first one (your aerobic threshold) is what we want to stay under for the majority of our training and the second (lactate threshold) is a top end marker to base your interval and high intensity work around, and a handy marker to set training zones from. Without going into a science lab, coaches will get you doing some basic field tests/ time trials or analyse race data to determine these markers and set your zones. But there is a pretty easy way to monitor things for yourself and make sure you’re going easy enough, that also correlates really well with the above threshold markers.
The ‘talk test’. As simple as it sounds, if you can maintain a steady conversation whilst training (obviously not in the pool), you are on the money. If you find that you can’t hold a convo whilst ticking along, then you’re probably smoking things out a little bit too hot, and need to cool the jets and slow down until you get things under control. Another way I measure things myself is simply to try breathing through my nose... if I can, I’m zeroed in, if not, I pull on the reigns. I can’t underestimate the value of keeping things easy and ensuring you are training at the right intensity for your easy endurance training.
Time and time again, we say it, the research says it, and yet we still see the want to half wheel things. Dial it back, cool your jets and save some biscuits for when you really need them. Like race day or your high intensity focused sessions.
Try it and see 😉
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