Training Science Articles by Couch to the Summit Performance Coaching
Couch to the Summit Performance Coaching aims to educate all athletes on how to train effectively, efficiently and safely and maximise their potential as an athlete, while also keeping health and longevity in mind.
Tackling the Grouse Grind once is enough for most people. The Grind is a 2.9km trail ascending 810 vertical meters along the steep forest of North Vancouver’s Grouse Mountain. Learn how I trained to accomplish 18 grinds in 19 hours over a ten-week training block in the summer of 2019.
For many decades, a battle has raged in endurance sports about how much Capacity versus Utilization training is optimal for endurance performance. The debate surrounds how much of each form of training is appropriate when considering the high-level performance – and longevity – of an athlete.
The best way to build endurance isn’t to repeatedly leave nothing in the tank with each workout. Some people regularly go out for a 30, 45- or 60-minute runs pushed right up against their endurance limit – almost everyday or every other day.
Overtraining syndrome (OTS) is a very complicated and poorly understood form of fatigue that doesn’t respond well to just typical levels of sleep and minor reductions in training. OTS is very common because most athletes are not able to recognise overtraining until it is too late.
Beginner athletes are most at risk of overdoing utilization training. When novices start running, they have zero movement economy and technique, so the demands of running can quickly elevate heart-rate into the high intensity heart-rate zones of utilization training.
When people talk of increasing fitness, often this is thought of as an all or nothing thing, without consideration of the completely different aspects of fitness. Are you talking about speed, power, endurance? A combination of some of those, or all of these components?
You may have heard athletes refer to other athletes as having a really “big motor” or a fantastic “aerobic base”. What does this really mean? Having a big motor allows you to handle more training volume, and as a result, maintain higher speeds for a longer amount of time than other athletes.
ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) is what provides energy to drive many processes inside living cells, such as muscle contractions. What determines your level of endurance is your ability to sustain rapid ATP production to fuel your cells.
A strong fat-adapted aerobic base is crucial to longevity in any endurance sport, and is done by performing a large volume of work beneath what is called the Aerobic Threshold. Athletes with a high aerobic capacity can maintain high speeds over long distances at a low metabolic cost.
The sports lab is the best place to determine accurately the AT and LT thresholds. However, you can use the next best thing — testing them with specific workouts. I get my athletes to run different workout tests to determine their aerobic and anaerobic threshold zones.
This is completely dependent on the conditioning of the athlete and whether the athlete is considered aerobically deficient or not. This is also the secret sauce of coaching and is completely dependent on the athlete, their level of fitness, their short-term and long-term goals, and how they are responding to training.
High intensity plays a critical role in every endurance athlete’s training for peaking performance. It is an established sports science training principle that application of high-intensity aerobic training (Zone 3 and above) is most effective when an athlete has a strong base level of aerobic capacity.
Many endurance events are dominated by hardworking, high-achieving type “A” personalities possessing enormous work ethic, mental toughness, and willpower as positive traits, but also stubbornness as a negative one. Such perseverance and mental fortitude can be an athlete’s greatest strength.