High Intensity in the Winter August 23, 2019 19:55 Updated Follow Not a Member yet? $25/month Get Purple Patch Education Membership, A complete performance education program for coaches and athletes. SUBSCRIBE You need to sign in to view this page. Training Methodology: Hitting high intensity training in the winter months. Across the country there are currently countless endurance athletes loyally seeking to 'rebuild their base of fitness' with countless hours of low intensity foundational riding and running. They loyally keep their heart rate under strict ceilings, careful to touch on the higher intensity in any session. When an athlete arrives to purplepatch from this type of approach, they are typically shocked at the amount and range of intensity prescribed in these winter months. They ask 'How do you build the base?' they ask, as their preconceived perceptions of proper off-season training dissolves in a blizzard of strong low and high rpm cycling and maximal output swim, bike and run sessions. So what is the mindset behind the range of intensity that I prescribe when an athlete is far away from their races? Let's investigate. A pragmatic mindset: A small part of the approach is based in the reality of the amateur athlete's life. Each year I see athletes chasing a massive foundation of endurance fitness, while their outside riding and running time is limited from short days and a very cold climate. They find themselves clipping off hours and hours of mind-numbing trainer-time on the bike, sapping much of the joy from the sport. What they forget all this time is that their sport is endurance driven by nature. So much of their race specific training they will do in the summer includes miles and hours of endurance development. There are no rules as to when the base can be built. Unshackled from the demands of Race Specificity: For most athletes, 50-60 % of their season will be dominated by training that prepares them for the specifics of their goal events. Within a busy life, this means that many sessions will be performance at or around race pace. With this reality arrives opportunity. We want to maximize the effectiveness of this race specific training, as it is central to race performance. At this time of the year we are far away from goal races, and don't need to be limited with too much race specific training. Instead, we can include some training that acts as a building block towards maximizing the results of the upcoming race specific phase. In addition, we can aim to increase the general capacity of the muscle to do work, and this means higher intensity. When looking at a Purple Patch program at this phase of the year you will see sessions that ask for strong hill-based running, very low and high, high rpm riding at strong effort, and even some maximal efforts with high rest. Our athletes feel more like high power and sprint distance athletes than those diesel engines that are IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 athletes. Keeping it fresh and full of variety: There is no better shortcut to create staleness and plateau than keeping the training stimulus the same throughout the season. Allowing a focus on speed, power and a range of intensities, while not being asked to log hours and hours of boring trainer work, has a massively beneficial effect on athlete happiness, but also on the ability of then to adapt and evolve over the course of an entire season. Finally, for the naysayers of this approach, it is worth remembering and realizing a couple of key points. First, the vast majority of triathletes don't take the huge breaks that would require a slow and patient rebuild of foundational fitness. Classically, this approach was adopted with cyclists and endurance athletes who took many months of low or no activity following a season, but most triathletes I know seldom detrain to the level that the previous generation of athletes did. They take a few weeks off, or at reduced capacity, and are then back at it. They begin much fitter than most athletes historically would. Second, if you are still truly committed to the base building low intensity approach, remember that we are managing athletes who are, for the most part, restricted in available training time. Professional athletes may have 25 to 30 hours to apply to training, but most amateurs are managing training in a window of 7 to 14 hours weekly. It now becomes an optimization challenge, and a return on you training investment. Maintaining very low intensity simply won't create a large enough stimulus to yield optimal results, but dumping more training hours on top of a busy life will simply create fatigue and low adaptations to the necessary training stress. It becomes a square peg in a round hole. I encourage you to think about it a different way, and shift your lens. You will have more fun, stop packing about trying to cram hours of training into short cold days, and will yield better results. Cheers, Matt ***If you find this information valuable, please share with your friends and family. We also love when you reach out via Twitter (@purplepatch) and or shoot us emails at firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate your feedback. Related articles The Long Term Performance Lens and Season Planning A Random Approach Promises Random Results Is Purple Patch for me? Seeing Light During Your Phases of Darkness What is the best method for scaling my session?