How to Manage intensity
When I did my Sports Science degree back in the 90’s there was a lot of emphasis on improving endurance performance by finding and training at ‘lactate threshold’ (LT). In fact, my undergrad dissertation was on developing a ramp test protocol for determining LT in rowers.
As a masters athlete, my learning journey started in a fresh direction. The increase in popularity and quality of podcasts was a big part of it. I was training increasingly on the turbo trainer because of time restrictions and music didn’t do it for me after a while. That’s when I started listening to podcasts.
After a couple of years using Trainer Road I was stuck in a pattern of training, burning out, getting ill and repeat!! Very frustrating and led me to stagnate in my racing.
Of course, a new direction was needed. Thankfully, I made the best decision ever and started working with Joe Beer. Joe is an incredible coach who guided me through a winter of training and onto my best season ever.
So what changed?
The change came from the intensity distribution. Trainer Road used a huge amount of sweet spot and threshold training. My change to a polarised model wasn’t necessarily easy, but learning from Joe, his support and committing to the process the results soon started to build.
I think the learning was a crucial part of the process for me. Helped me to commit to the process. Reading and listening to Stephen Seiler was a big part of it.
People are so afraid to go easy, but the research is very clear, it works!! My intensity distribution ranged from 90-95% EASY training each week. Which works out to be about 8-9 hours easy with about 40-50 minutes on high-intensity intervals.
How do you set your intensity zones
The easiest way to get started is with Stephen Seilers 3 zone model. All you need to know is your maximum heart rate (MHR):
- Zone 1 = up to 78% of your MHR
- Zone 2 = Between 78-86% of MHR
- Zone 3 = Over 86% of MHR
Start by going out easy and monitoring your HR. If it’s an easy day you should stay in Zone 1 the whole time (a few seconds above here and there won’t matter…but don’t con yourself…stay in Z1).
On hard days do your intervals targeting the competition you are doing or the metabolic system you are trying to improve.
It’s actually very easy…the hard bit is staying disciplined. If it’s a Z1 day, don’t go for a KOM!! Don’t chase down that rider who just overtook you…BE DISCIPLINED!!! Remember you have bigger fish to fry, race days are for racing…save it for then.
Endurance performance comes primarily from frequent, consistent training. Frequent consistent training is best achieved with good control of your intensity distribution.
Get control of your intensity and good things will happen.