Tag Archives: consistency

Volume vs Intensity – The endurance athlete’s conundrum

volume vs intensity

I think that if you are an endurance athlete of any type, to become good at it you need to do it a lot. Someone once told me that you should train as much as you can without doing any the following:

– breaking down
– burning out
– losing your job
– losing your spouse

Most of the science points to the fact that the sheer amount of time you train has a stronger effect on your performance than any other factor. And according to Matt Fitzgerald, in his very good book called “Racing Weight“, the reason has to do with efficiency. He says that a low-volume, high-intensity approach to training will increase your aerobic capacity (VO2 Max), as much as a high-volume, low intensity program. On a high-intensity programme, however, you stop improving as soon as your VO2 Max hits a genetically defined ceiling, which doesn’t take long (hence the success of time crunched, high intensity programmes, seeing quick gains). But, he argues, with a high-volume programme, you become more and more efficient the longer you keep doing it, and so your race performances keep improving too.

The reason the high volume yields ongoing efficiency gains is that each time you take a stride, or turn the pedals, it is an opportunity to practice that movement. The more you repeat it, the more practice you get. This gives your neuromuscular system chance to find more ways to trim waste from the movement pattern.

So I would conclude that efficiency is what we are striving for.  And that comes from practice, and more practice.

Thanks for reading.  If you would like to get in touch, please follow me on Twitter and contact me via this social media channel.  If I am mentioned in your Tweet, I will always get back to you.  Thank you for taking time out to read my post.

Follow me on

Strava – Don’t you just love it?

Strava advert

Strava, you have to hand it to them. They recently sent me an email that went as follows:
Studies have shown that Strava athletes with lots of followers live longer, happier and far more glamorous lives. Can you imagine being a spry 140 year old, taking KOMs (King of Mountains) by accident and finishing every day in a hot tub filled with champagne and gold coins?

We know everyone is different, so here’s a menu of pre-written emails to get the ball rolling. Fair warming: some are almost as absurd as this email. Thanks for spreading the word.

Then I was able to click on any of the five options and send them out to friends.

Title – I’m so much faster than you! Prove me wrong on Strava.
Text – Hey, When you’re ready to ride with the big dogs, you should sign up for Strava. It’s a great way to spice up training and get fit. If you join and train hard, maybe in 10 – 15 years you can keep up with me. Give it a shot…. it’s free.

Title – I need you on Strava! It’s just not right without you.
Text – Hey partner, You should really try Strava. It’s made my riding a lot more fun, and I’ve met great people (just like you) and discovered lots of new routes. Plus it’s free… c’mon, just download it! You’ll fit right in.

Option 3. NASTY.
Title – I’m sick of you not being on Strava. Get with it!
Text – Hey, You ride a lot. You talk about riding a lot. “Epic adventure here, hard training day there, blah blah blah…” but none of it is on Strava. Get with the times and sign up already. I’d rather check out your activity in the Strava feed than hear another “you should have been there!” story.

Option 4. NICE.
Title – Please join me on Strava. It’ll be fun!
Text – Hey Friend, I really think you’ll enjoy Strava. It’s the best way to track your rides and connect with other athletes… sort of a tracking app and social network all in one. Give it a try (it’s free) and we can follow each other!

Title – If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen. Time to legitimize your overconfidence.
Text – Hey, There are two kinds of rides: those recorded on Strava, and those where you thought you were faster than me. Join Strava and show me what you got. It’s fun and free.

Strava logostrava screen shot

So there you have.  And they create really cool little animations of your year.  Here is mine:  My 2015 Strava Adventure

If you would like to get in touch, please follow me on Twitter and contact me via this social media channel.  If I am mentioned in your Tweet, I will always get back to you.  Thank you for taking time out to read my post.

Oh, and if you would like me to live a longer, happier and far more glamourous live, please remember to follow me on Strava by clicking on the button below!

Follow me on

Top Ten Exercise and Fitness Tips

It doesn’t matter what exercise you are doing, use my following Top 10 Tips to get stronger, faster, leaner and ultimately see improvements in your performance.
1.  Be consistent.  Set a training plan that you can handle and stick to it.  A friend once told me that you cannot make judgement on a training plan until you have completed it.  I recently used the Time Crunched Cyclist Training Plan to prepare for 4 x back to back century rides from London to Edinburgh.  I stuck with it, was consistent in my training, and as a result did pretty well (2nd overall).
2.  Take recovery days seriously.  The body needs time to recovery and get stronger.  Chrissie Wellington, a four time World Ironman Championships, knows a thing or two about training, says “If it’s your rest day, remember your sofa is making you faster, stronger and more resilient.”
3.  Increase your weekly totals gradually.  10% per month seems to be the most quoted number.  Even if you feel really good, still take it gradually.  You are walking a tight rope between improvement and overtraining.
4.  Eat well.  Good nutrition is one of my three pillars of health.  Rubbish in = Rubbish out.  Why waste time training if you are not going to put the right fuel in the tank?
5.  Do Intervals.  Train hard, race easy.  Intervals are a very efficient way of getting fitter.
6.  Strengthen your whole body.  A strong core will always serve you well, whatever sport you do.  Do Burpees as a whole body strengthening exercise.  Why not have a look at my earlier post, Burpees – The Best Exercise In The World And Why I Love Them.
7.  Wear the right equipment.  If you run, make sure you wear the right shoes.  The more you run, the more support your feet need.  The right equipment makes a real difference in whatever sport you take part in.
8.  Perfect your form.  Become more efficient at whatever sport you do, by doing it more.  It is a free marginal gain that you can get on your competition.
9.  Listen to your body, but don’t let the mind trick you.  You know the score, it is raining, you are tired, and that last hill rep just seems a step too far.  Your mind is telling you to go home and get a shower and a cup of coffee.  Ignore it, do that last rep, get stronger and in the process become Bad Ass because you are working out in the rain.  My post on “Pain is good for you” links in nicely to this.  One of my favourite quotes is from Emil Zatopek – the only man to win the Olympic 5,000m, 10,000m and Marathon in the same Games (send me an email if you know which Games that was).  He said in his biography: “When I am feeling bad, I know that the others must be feeling worse, so I know that that is the best time to attack”.  He, in my opinion, had the perfect mental approach to exercise.
10.  Embrace technology.  If you can afford it, buy the best and the latest technology.  My top two fitness gadgets are my Garmin 810 bike computer and my Garmin 620 running watch.  They are both awesome.  If you want to read about them go to dcrainmaker.com – he does excellent reviews of all types of fitness gear.  That said, although they provide me with plenty of data and motivation, don’t become too reliant on them.  It is good to exercise without technology sometimes and there is a lot to be said for basing everything on how you feel.

Use my top 10 tips to get fitter, stronger and improve even more.  Go get it!