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Training philosophy

Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:36 pm
by Neuro
Not that I'm competing or even an avid trainer, but it's nevertheless interesting to see what's considered optimal training so surely useful for all.

From the XC World Cup, I've heard the Norwegian coach talk about long duration, low intensity training. Basically putting in lots of hours slow skiing, rollerskiing, jogging, biking or whatever, in order that the body can easily recover and soon be ready for a new bout. The body will apparently think training is training and so be conditioned by it, even if it's not really that hard. As Norwegian trainer and TV pundit Torgeir Bjørn interestingly puts it: It's about putting IN to the body, not taking OUT.

Martin Johnsrud Sundby has around 1000 training hours a year which is 100-200 or more than most others, but of course he is especially receptive to much training since the performance is top notch. There is also occasional high intensity training, but even that is limited. Ole Morten Iversen, who is Norwegian and now training the Swedish team talks of very similar philosophies between the two countries with the only difference being that the Swedish high intensity is a bit more intense.

As we know from doping, recovery between training is almost as important as the training itself as that's what the drugs are mostly doing, isn't it. And how many times have we heard of competitors or whole squads ruining their season with overtraining. A recent example is Petter Northug who ruined this whole season by being too eager after being at altitude. Øystein Pettersen, a former World Cup racer now on the long distance XC circuit, was so eager to train that the body shut down and he had to be hospitalized.

Bottom line seems to be that resting is as important to fitness as training.

A recent study (can't remember where I saw it now) showed that the healthiest hearts have those that do racquet sports. Basically low to medium activity with lots of breaks.

Conclusion seems to be that taking it easy and not overdoing things plus good rest periods is actually more effective than pushing like mad.

What do you think? Am I right here, or did I miss something? Can one compare or use top athlete training philosophy elsewhere?

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:08 pm
by dcpattie
I saved a hard copy of a Bjorn Daehile interview from 1998. The executive summary is that he trained 800 hours per year - 80% long-slow-distance at 130 HR (140-150 on the uphills). His longest session are 5-hours in length.

Interval training once a week from May-August; twice per week from Sep-Nov; and zero during the racing season.

Weight training = light weights with high reps.

One thing about elite nordic skiers - they are incredible runners. Daehlie could run a 3k in 8:18 and a 800 in 2-minutes flat.

I think this is where marathon nordic skiing is at the moment - how long can you DP in zone 2 (70-75% max HR)? The top guys can for 3-4 hours.

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:40 pm
by skiffrace
Neuro wrote:what's considered optimal training so surely useful for all

"Optimal training" for whom, and to achieve what goals?
For top athletes to compete at top level? For amateur athletes to compete? For weekend warriors to live a long and healthy life?
Very different, and often with conflicting methodologies.

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:57 am
by Neuro
skiffrace wrote:"Optimal training" for whom, and to achieve what goals?
For top athletes to compete at top level? For amateur athletes to compete? For weekend warriors to live a long and healthy life?
Very different, and often with conflicting methodologies.

Well that's the goal to map here. Maybe there are commonalities too.

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:58 am
by jt10000
skiffrace wrote:"Optimal training" for whom, and to achieve what goals?
For top athletes to compete at top level? For amateur athletes to compete? For weekend warriors to live a long and healthy life?
Very different, and often with conflicting methodologies.

I was going to ask similar questions. And also, what constraints do you face?

And I'll add something about applying the training approach of top skiers to weekend warriors. We can look at a Dæhlie or a Sundby and think: he's only doing 15% of his training at high intensity, and translating that to weekend warriors doing, say, 350 hours a year, keep a similar percentage, of say 60 hours a year of intense training.

Or we can think, he's doing 160 hours a year of intensity, and maybe we should be doing that total.

The best reality is probably somewhat in between: the more you train, the more importance of low intensity work. But it's not that clear to me.

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:59 am
by Neuro
But isn't it still relative? Can only speak for myself, but if I train too hard one day, I'm knackered for days and my scheduled training day (I typically train every other day), is a chore and usually has to be cut short and then I doubt the sum gain is significant, although I can't be sure.

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 9:45 am
by Pat
I think it also varies depending upon whether you are doing the same exercise discipline most of the time, or if you have a variety. I have found that with a variety of activities I can handle relatively intense workouts more frequently and not get rundown or hurt. I wouldn't say that if I was still racing and competing as hard as I did when I was younger. With only having an hour a day to get a workout in, going at 1/2 to 2/3 speed doesn't scratch that itch. Sebastian Coe, the great British middle distance runner, always quoted "train slow, race slow," i.e, without the intensity the speed isn't there.

Pat

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:37 pm
by TooHeavy
Does Ford tell GM their secrets ? What are you building a work horse or a race horse ?

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:21 pm
by skiffrace
Martin Johnsrud Sundby...Bjorn Daehli...elite nordic skiers

Common mistake committed by amateurs is trying to emulate the training of top athletes with the wishful assumption "if I train like they do, I will come closer to their level of fitness".

In reality, if all training done by Sundby, Daehli or Northug was an easy 1-hour ski on Sunday afternoon in the park, they would still outrace 9 out of 10 of the zealous amateurs putting in 2-hour workout each day at 5 AM before work.
It's all about the genes (aka talent) - without them you will hit your ceiling soon, no matter how you train, what you eat etc.

What works and is suitable for the elite will likely not work/be suitable for the masses, especially, as jt10000 pointed out, considering constraints the masses have (full time job, family)

If you don't make a living from racing, first and foremost, have fun. Obsessing about PRs may seem like a worthwhile pursuit at a moment, but in the long run it's a fool's gold. The real long-term goal is again 1) to have fun and 2) stay healthy.

Point 2) brings us to findings by Cooper Institute and many other researchers that the health benefits of running (or similar activity) top out at 15 to 20 miles/week, ie. a few hours of high quality exercise.
People may do more to gain more fitness, lose weight, obsessive/compulsive behavior etc, but that extra effort has nothing to do with health,
and unless you have fun, it's a waste of time.

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:08 am
by Neuro
But the erroneous assumption could just as well be that there is nothing transferable, and certainly that the wish of amateurs is to be on the same fitness as top athletes. Also that this thread is just about top athletes, since it's about training philosophy in general even if the OP describes top athletes. Sharing information and experiences on training an obvious benefit of a forum like this.

Now, about how the top athletes train. Can anybody say that amateurs won't get the same benefit from following the same philosophy, just scaled down? Or that it's no good?

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:52 am
by Mark M
The dilemma is same with road cycling enthusiasts and non-pro racers, how much should you devote to base / long-slow miles when you have limited time available. Road cycling is a step ahead xc skiing as new affordable power meters allow more precise training even at enthusiast level.

I have no hard data but for cycling around 300 hrs per year seems to be minimum level for successful racing in lower categories (especially in Masters) and it would seem that at similar level in xc skiing the yearly training hours need to be much higher.

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 5:18 am
by Neuro
But in everybody's experience, what has been the best training for you? Is there a certain way that's worked better than others? How often and how much do you do high intensity/interval training?

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 6:28 am
by skiffrace
neuro wrote:Can anybody say that amateurs won't get the same benefit from following the same philosophy, just scaled down?

Sure, but following what philosophy? The elite does long, slow distance (LSD) interspersed with some intervals. The exact proportions vary from person to person, but are not replicable.
There is a handful of genetic freaks who compete for the podium at the Olympics/World Cup, + another few dozen genetically gifted who aspire to do so.
The freaks win because, again, they are genetic freaks with supernatural VO2 max, felt good and had good wax and good luck on that day, not because they did 85% LSD + 15% intervals the month before.
In other words, there is no secret recipe you can copy.

neuro wrote:But in everybody's experience, what has been the best training for you? Is there a certain way that's worked better than others? How often and how much do you do high intensity/interval training?


For answer, listen to Pat
Pat wrote:Sebastian Coe, the great British middle distance runner, always quoted "train slow, race slow," i.e, without the intensity the speed isn't there.

Computer programmers of yore had a similar saying about software: "garbage in, garbage out"
Or, to use another quote : "better less, but better'

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:50 am
by Pat
Well at this point in my life I have found that doing the shorter, higher intensity works best. However -- I never do the same discipline in a row. So maybe one day it is a run, next day some dry land training, etc... Now you have a guy like Galen Rupp,the runner,cranking out 140 miles a week of running and doing very, very, well. So genetics aside, which is the absolute truth that you either have it or you don't, it depends what your body responds to. Roger Banister when he was training/racing and broke the 4 minute barrier in the mile, was only able to train about 45 minutes a day due to med school studies -- worked for him. Of course you look at the film footage when he broke that record and they had to carry him off the field because he was exhausted. You watch a mile race at a world class level today and most of the field will break 4 minutes and they all look like they are ready to do another workout 5 minutes later. Key is enjoy the workout and DON'T GET HURT.

Pat

Re: Training philosophy

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 3:47 pm
by Neuro
Specific recipes and natural differences aside, the point is generally about training philosophies for XC skiing. In the world cup there are similar differences between skiers (as with Sundby receptive to huge amounts of training hours per year), but they talk about training philosophy all the time and even how it's the same between nations. A common denominator that through trial and error they have found to work for all.

Of course it will be slightly different for XC sprint training, but even there, I heard Stina Nilsson's coach say she hadn't done a single speed run for months, it's all been slow. Still she was in great shape and won the sprint in Canada.

If my foot recovers, I will put it to the test this rollerski season. Normally I treat every run as interval training, but feel the gains are marginal. This time I will take it more easy and go slightly longer, and do 1 run in 4 or 5 more intense.