Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One Simple Thing

I was perusing the October 2009 issue of Runner’s World and came across an article entitled “6 Secrets Of Highly Successful Runners,” by Sarah Lorge Butler. Her question: What really improves running performance? Her answer: Intense training sessions – as long as you do them right.

It got me thinking about how many different ways there are to improve performance. Everywhere you turn, someone has an opinion/suggestion/miracle. Tempo runs, intervals, hill repeats, long slow distance, open water swimming, drills, recovery, rest, nutrition, supplements, gear, etc. How to winnow the chaff and glean the nuggets of gold (to mix metaphors or something)?

This is the first season in many many many years that I am training consistently. The training I chose to improve both my fitness and performance was based on a 3 day a week program for running, biking, and swimming (though my swimming averages out o 0, probably). I basically do a tempo day, an interval/skill day, and a LSD day for the disciplines. I think it’s working. Though not race-tested, I feel more fit, can run/bike further, and my pace per mile is coming down. What’s next?

As someone who has a family, works, and is both somewhat lazy and a procrastinator, the amount of training will not increase markedly (though it will have to if I actually want to complete an Ironman distance triathlon by my 50th birthday). What would be One Simple Thing I could do to improve my performance?

Mine is actually easy. Not that it’s simple or easy , but if I lost all my excess weight (roughly 40-50 pounds), everything would improve. My health, fitness, endurance, and performance, the whole kit and caboodle. With my recent health scare (see earlier post), I’m working on the nutrition part. In several weeks, I’ll find out if giving up red meat, bread products, and taking red rice yeast are enough to: lose weight, lower my cholesterol, and give me a clean(er) bill of health.

What’s your Simple Thing? What could you do to improve performance?


  1. Last year, I used the KISS (keep it simple stupid) with the concept the way to get better at swimming, biking, running is to go out and swim, bike and run.

    This year is a little more techinal, Using 8 phases for my "A" race.

    Adaptation Stage: This is a low intensity training phase allowing you to get stronger gradually to avoid injuries further into the season. It is also meant to help
    you be consistent in your workout – allowing you to adapt your training program into your lifestyle. Do not exceed the recommended workout allocations as this
    will only cause you to burn out or get injured as our training intensities increases.

    Aerobic Stage: This is a period where Intensity levels are gradually increasing. Swim Drills and track workouts are incorporated into your workout.

    Active Recovery I: Active recovery period. Allow your body to heal and recover. You will enter the Endurance phase stronger.

    Endurance Stage: Open Water swimming is incorporated into the workout. Brick workouts (Bike/Run) are introduced in this phase. Distance and intensity
    levels are gradually increasing. Weight training is decreased. Track workout is introduced for speed work.

    Active Recovery II: Active recovery period. Allow your body to heal and recover for higher intensity workouts in the Competitive phase.

    Competitive Stage: Intensities & distance are at its maximum level. You will be race ready at the end of this phase. There is no weight training in this phase.
    Endurance training allowing you to “Go Long” is emphasized in this phase.

    Taper: Recovery period. Intensity levels and distances are decreased. Let your body recover so you can race in peak state on race day.

    Race Day

  2. My simplest thing is lose 15 lbs. Like you said, not simple or easy, but straight forward - if I loose the weight, I will be faster and fitter. Good luck with the nutrition, that is one of my biggest challenges.

  3. Great, engaging question.

    Weight loss made all the difference in the world for me. And it's more important than the gear - a pound less on the engine is better than a pound less on the bike.

    But I hit a point of diminishing returns with swimming so my thing at the moment is I am coughing up a little $$ to have an instructor teach me swim technique.

    I dont do any speed or tempo work yet, though I've been researching it. But as BDD mentioned above, KISS is sort of where I am at the moment.

  4. 1) Body composition.

    2) Follow the plan (whatever it is).

  5. I think weight loss is a HUGE first step, and it is so difficult that it's probably all you want to focus on right now.

    My philosophy, though, is that you start running faster by running faster, and it doesn't matter what fancy name you put on it. Many of my running friends will go out and "take it easy" every time. You've gotta go out there and put some work into it to get faster. Whether that's repeats, tempo runs, fartleks, or whatever you want to do, it doesn't really matter. That's just me though :)


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