The Paradox

Written by Jesse. Posted in Coaching Thoughts

The paradox I speak of is that which exists in an athlete’s training objectives. The ability to improve speed potential and the need for durability clash. Quality in one’s program gives them good snappy speed potential at moderate race distances when using a moderate volume approach. Athletes that race those shorter distances such as Olympic athletes don’t need mega durability so tend to settle their training around 20 hours max with a greater focus on quality of workouts. Because there is more quality and more recovery, they typically end up with better speed potential over the shorter distances. For IM athletes, this approach just doesn’t do it because volume is too low and doesn’t give the required durability to extend their speed potentials to the longer distance. Therefore, the IM athlete must train longer hours to get that durability since it will have the largest impact on their race day. The trick is to build volume for durability and still figure out ways to get quality in with adequate recovery…..the two of these concepts don’t mix very well. Unfortunately the two things required for solid long distance racing: 1) good speed potential, and 2) good durability, are tough to optimize in parallel. I believe this is one of the reasons we have seen short course racers make such a presence at IM distance racing recently. They have developed unbelievable speed potential first with quality and lower volume. Then, move on to add durability through higher volume in preparation for an IM event. This allows them to have solid speed potential and the ability to extend it to longer race distances.

-Jesse

Comments (4)

  • IronMatron (Mary)

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    So why do you have your athletes work on durability first and speed potential second?
    Or am I misunderstanding what durability means?

    Is it ideal for an athlete to work at the shorter distances for a few seasons and then move to the longer ones?

    Reply

  • Anonymous

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    I have re-thought my question. I KNOW why we work on durability first, and I believe in it, so what I really want to know is:
    What should we take from your observation of this paradox? Should we focus on shorter distances first and gradually move to the longer ones?

    Reply

  • Ironmatron

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    That was me. not anonymous. your faithful and annoying questioner.

    Reply

  • FL - John

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    So what about those who have significant base that is consistent IM length distance but no real speed, can this be reversed? Can a person (Masters Level) gain significant speed while maintaining base or durability? And can that be done with a 20 to 25 hour training schedule?

    Reply

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