The OutSeason® Seminar, Lesson #1: Work is SPEED Entering the Body

At the end of this lesson, you will:

  • Understand and adopt our definition of fitness and what it means to be/become more fit.
  • Establish a functional benchmark for current fitness.
  • Begin to use these tools to evaluate and reassess your current training schedule and perspectives of endurance training.

Coach Quotes:

  • “If you want to go fast, you have to go FAST!”
  • “Don’t focus on the FAR or how long. Instead, focus on the amount of work you get done with the time that life gives you.”

Can becoming a faster triathlete really be that simple? Not if you listen to the rest of tri world! 

Other coaches and the Training Article of the Month will largely confuse the issue: aerobic vs anaerobic fitness, glycogen this, blood volume that, and pedaling efficiency the other thing. These messages are surrounded by ads for expensive carbon widgets, whizzbang gadgets and other flimflammery that promise free speed, all yours for a hefty price!

In our world, it’s very simple:

  • Moving yourself down the road at Speed X requires your body to perform Work Y.
  • This “perform Work Y” is simply a functional measurement of your fitness. Timmy can ride 22mph for an hour to Jimmy’s 20mph, Timmy covers the same amount of ground in less time. Timmy does more work. The ability to perform more work = Timmy has more fitness than Jimmy. Without confusing ourselves with lactate this, that, or trying to figure out what’s going on inside their bodies, we instead focus on the functional expression of this fitness. Timmy can ride 22mph for an hour. Jimmy can ride 20mph for an hour. Period. Done.
  • Timmy and Jimmy’s bodies are lazy, only adapting themselves to the work that our heroes ask of them.If Jimmy, stuck at 20mph, wants to hand it to Timmy, he needs to…RIDE FASTER! No amount of riding 20mph will ever magically create the ability to ride 22mph! Only by forcing his body to go faster, by doing more WORK, will he force it to adapt to this higher work load and become faster!
  • If anyone tells you that you can get faster by riding longer…yes, you can, but the amount of time you need to spend riding long to turn long into fast is so ludicrously long they might as well be telling you to train on the moon. Run away.

WORK is SPEED Entering the Body!

No other six words in the triathlon world have such power to transform everything you do in this sport. Once you go WORK, you’ll never go back! But you need to take the first step first, five in fact.

Step #1: Establish a baseline for your current cycling fitness.

That’s fancy-speak for get out there and do a test!

Bike Test: 30-40 minute time trial.

After a good warmup, which includes some hard efforts to open up your legs, do ONE, NOT BOTH of the tests below. You can test indoors or outdoors but do your best to make the test protocol and conditions as repeatable as possible. This is especially important for heart rate athletes, whose primary performance metric will be speed. As speed is very much affected by wind, you need to do your best to eliminate wind as a variable…yes, difficult to do, we know. Test in the morning, before winds pick up, or, better still, on a continuous climb where wind is not a factor at all.

Bike Test for Heart Rate Athletes:

Warmup: 10-15′ Easy, then 3 x 2′ Hard/Fast, to open up your legs. Spin easy, until you’re ready to drill it, and then…

  • Test: Time Trial (TT), for 40 minutes. Ride at the maximum speed you can sustain for 40 continuous minutes, as if you were racing. Record your average heart rate and speed for this time trial effort. This average heart rate is a good-enough approximation of your lactate threshold heart rate, used for determining training zones.
  • Cool Down: just ride easy

Bike Test for Power Athletes:

Warmup: see above

  • Test: Start the interval function on your powermeter, then ride a 20′ time trial, 2′ rest/easy riding, repeat 20′ time trial, stop the interval, for a total of 42′.
  • Cool Down: ride easy

Process Data, Power Athletes:

Download your workout file into WKO+ (excellent software tool for power athletes). Create a range for the 42′ interval above – the 20′ time trial, 2′ rest, 20′ time trial. The Normalized Power for this 42′ range is your Functional Threshold Power (FTP). Note: if you have no idea what we just said, no worries, we can help. In Lesson #3 will give you a barebones explanation of all of this.
Step #2: Establish a baseline for your current running fitness.

Run Test, 5k Time Trial:

After a good 15 to 20-minute warm up, including three pick ups of 30 seconds each at 5k pace, you’ll start your test. Ideally you’ll have access to a measured, relatively flat course which you will run almost all out, only slightly conserving energy over the first mile to prevent a total meltdown at the very end. Note that you should have repeat access to this course for future testing (so don’t pick a race). We use a measured 5k course whether you train with Heart Rate or a Pace device, as your time for the distance yields a functional benchmark by which we can determine the proper training (and eventually racing) paces.

Run Test for ALL Athletes:

Warmup: 15-20′ Easy, then 3 x 30 seconds Hard/Fast, to open up your legs. When ready…

  • Test: 5k Time Trial. Run at the maximum speed you can sustain for the full 5k, as if you were racing. Record your time, average heart rate, etc for this time trial effort.
  • Cool Down: Easy jog / stagger / walk.

Process Data, Pace Athletes:

Enter your test distance (5k) and total time into a training paces calculator such as this free one.  This will generate training zones based on Daniels’ Running Formula.

We will explain this process in more detail in Lesson Four: Training with Pace, due to hit your inbox shortly.

Step #3: Get to Know Your Benchmarcks

These are your benchmarks, your “Threshold Pace/Speed/Watts,” the starting fitness against which you measure any improvements. Your pace/speed/watts at threshold has been scientifically proven to be the most accurate predictor of how you’ll perform at longer distances. More importantly, this is a FUNCTIONAL test, what can you actually DO, and cuts through all of the mumbo jumbo about what may or may not be going inside of your body. All we know is you can run a 5k in 22:30. That 22:30 is the functional expression of your current fitness and is THE most critical metric you can track.

Step #4: Self-Assessment

Review your training for the last several weeks and ask yourself “how much time have I spent, each week, running or riding at or near this threshold pace?” If your answer is zero, congratulations, you’re just like 98% of the triathlon world! The good news is that you have TREMENDOUS potential to improve over the course of this free seminar, or with our OutSeason® training plans, just by punching the clock with more time at your benchmark paces! But it begins with this critical self-assessment: how much time per week do I spend actually doing the training that makes me faster by…going fast!

Step #5: Apply these benchmarks to your training for this week.

Run = 15 total minutes at benchmark pace, as intervals of 5-6′ in length.
  • Bike = 25 total minutes at benchmark pace, as intervals of 8-10′ in length.

Example: Billy tests his bike as 21mph average and 220 watts. His 5k pace was 7:47/mile. So, across all of his training this week, he’ll schedule/accumulate a total of 15 minutes at about 7:45 pace on the run, and a total of 25 minutes at 21mph or 220 watts on the bike.

Each lesson in this seminar we will give you similar guidance for the training week, so pay attention!

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We hope you’ve enjoyed Lesson #1. We’ll be back in a few days with Lesson #2, the Self-Coached Athlete as Time Investment Manager.

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