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HTC Efficient Runner Blog 3 - Learn to train

HTC Efficient Runner Blog 3 - Learn to train

Dispel some myths

Myth 1: Run training is the same as bike and swim training. Apart from the obvious observation that trainers, water and bikes are involved, the principles of endurance training are always the same for training your body. To some extent this is true, but the damage done in the process is different. I’ll talk about this in a later blog.

Myth 2: ‘No pain, no gain’. This training mindset is based on the 1980’s mantra popularised by Jane Fonda. Just notice the posters decorating the walls of your local gym or sports centre. Photographs of sweating, smiling athletes encourage you to believe that the only way to get fit is to bust a gut. This sells gym membership but doesn’t make you a good endurance athlete.

Myth 3: ‘I can’t run.’ ‘Running hurts my (insert injury).’ This is your prevailing mindset. It’s your mental blockage. You can overcome this by learning to train for running differently.

Dave’s goal: I’m going to be running when I’m 80.

If you were able to run whenever you wanted throughout your life, how would you train?

Two coaches who changed the way I think about training

Dr Phil Maffertone was the coach for a number of Kona winners. He believed his athletes were burning themselves out through training too hard. There had to be another way. He came up with training at MAF level of intensity. MAF nothing to do with his name it stands for Maximum Aerobic Function. Go to his website, read The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing and listen to Dr Maffetone’s podcasts for the detail. In a nutshell, MAF training is where you train at low intensity, at this level your muscles are burning fat for fuel rather than sugars.

Dr Steven Seiler an American researcher/physiologist based in Norway gave a ground breaking presentation at the Training Peaks Endurance Conference I attended.

His presentation was based around the Hierarchy of Training Priorities for Endurance Athletes. Basically in terms of importance, there are some elements of training that have a higher priority than others..

The photo below illustrates this and the ones at the bottom of the pyramid are the MOST IMPORTANT. In fact if you only focus on the bottom 3 then you will make good progress. The other 5 are the icing on the cake.

Your top 3 priorities are…

1. Frequency/volume of training - Consistent training is critical. Little and often is best. More is better. Athletes who train every day are most successful. BUT 90% IS REALLY EASY TRAINING

2. High Intensity training - Intervals are important and make up about 10% of your total weekly training duration. For example, if you train 10 hours per week (600 minutes) then 60 minutes will be devoted to intervals This is ‘No pain, no gain’ super hard. BUT ONLY ONE SESSION A WEEK.

3. Training Intensity Distribution

Only have 3 zones

Easy. 90% of your training (below the Aerobic Threshold - roughly 80% MHR, Maximum Heart Rate). This is MAF or Zone 2 where you can have a conversation as you run. Or better, run with your mouth shut and nose breath.

Hard. 10% of your training (above Anaerobic Threshold - roughly 90% MHR)

Moderate or tempo. 0% of normal run training. Known as the ‘Grey zone (between the 2 thresholds). Here you get very little extra fitness. 3% more compared to the Easy zone. You do get more tired, stiff and can’t train well the next day. However, you do need to run in this zone as you approach a race.

Take away

Run training should be at Zone 2 / MAF. This might mean run/walk. It doesn’t make you tired. You put less stress on your joints, muscles and tendons so does less damage. Recover is quicker. You will get run fit slowly but will be able to run on your 80th birthday (possibly).

Be consistent. Run or walk every day. Consistent training builds successful triathletes.

HIT can be a track workout or do it on a bike turbo trainer to save your joints if you are more delicate or an older athlete. The training effect is the same but less damaging.


Dave Bradley
HTC Coach
BT level 3 coach. Training Peaks level 2 coach

Huddersfield Triathlon Club Efficient runner programme.

Leeds Road athletics track every Wednesday 6:30 – 7:30. Free. Just turn up to trackside and introduce yourself.

These sessions are designed to make you an efficient runner. No fast intervals. Easy running focused on technique and injury prevention. Olympic athletes and run/walkers all benefit.

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