Evolution of Running within Endurance Nation, Part II

Part 2 of another Endurance Nation case study in community-driven continuous improvement. You can read Part 1 here.

Out Season, 2008
Rich and Patrick lock themselves down into bi-coastal coffee shops and, their brains connected through tools like Skype, Google Chat, and Google Docs, they hammer out the next version of Out-Season Plans, with these refinements:

  • Zero swimming. Yeah, it’s whack but we have good reasons, it works.
  • Bike = it’s still all about FTP. We tweak the intervals, move the workouts around on the weekly calendar, turn this up, this down, but in the end nothing too revolutionary.
  • Run = it’s ALL about the VDot = forget the half marathon stuff and focus on 5k fitness. Yep, we are going to tell Ironman® athletes to forget running endurance, half marathon OS focus, and instead train for a 5k PR. Fortunately, after being in the Haus for over a year, many had faith in us and followed us. Many others went along for the ride, swallowing big glasses of EN KoolAid being served by the upperclassmen.
  • We scheduled a January Run Challenge to give those who wanted it an early season running frequency and volume pop, just for fun.

Around January reports started to trickle in from the frontlines: FTP’s at lifetime highs, VDot’s rising, check out this PR from the Frozen Tundraville 5k, etc. February got more interesting, as our East Coast Tour of California participants crushed the course, ramping up their volume 500% from 4hrs on a trainer to 25hrs+ in challenging terrain = validation of the FTP cycling focus.

But, what about the run? In March, four members of the Northern Illinois Sleeper Cell took their 5k fitness to a local half marathon and crushed their PR’s. More and more reports of 5k, 10k, half marathon, and even trail marathon PR’s began to flood in. And, astonishingly, our OS double sport focus (remember, no swimming at all + hard cycling + hard running) was validated with some early season tri performances: 25′ Oly PR’s, 25-30′+ HIM PR’s on untapered legs.

Today is April 22, 2009 and this is what we have learned:

  1. It’s about the VDot. On race day you run to a VDot. A higher VDot on race day means that you have earned the right to run faster on race day. You earn that higher VDot by lifting your VDot, by simply running faster in training. If you wanna run faster on race day, you gotta become a faster runner in training. Again, not a revolutionary concept…except in the world of Ironman® training and racing.
  2. Running endurance is overrated. Yes, please insert caveats here regarding avoiding injury, building durability, etc. However, we have gained confidence that we can extend the Get Faster protocol deeper into the seasons of our athletes, based on their very solid performances at the half marathon and half Ironman® distances. This does a couple things for us:
  • We now have more weeks in the season to make them faster. For example, rather than ending the Get Faster guidance in February for an Coeur d’Alene athlete, we can now extend that focus through early/mid April. In our experience that gives them the opportunity to earn another 2-3 point VDot increase, yielding even faster paces on race day.
  • Because we can extend this low volume protocol deeper into the season, we can now preserve their heads for longer and longer. High volume training comes at a high mental, lifestyle, and family cost. And let’s face it: most of us only have so many 2-2.5hr IM-flavor runs in the mental bank account before we go nuts. Maintaining this low volume protocol deeper into the season allows us to conserve their headspace. This, we have learned, is our most important long term job as triathlon coaches for age group athletes just like you.

How Endurance Nation Works
The evolution of Endurance Nation’s running protocol is excellent insight as to how we work as a community. More than 600 age-group triathletes connected online and united in their singular quest to achieve their personal athletic best. Every single member brings valuable personal experience and unique insight to the Team

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Coach P

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