When I started running and triathlon as a 19-year-old (only a few short years ago ), I was fortunate enough to train with some very talented state and national representatives. The majority were ‘old school’ athletes who didn’t have the option to use the likes of GPS, power meters, heart rate monitors, and speed measuring devices. We trained at two intensities – easy or hard.
Almost 30 years later, I still apply the same training philosophy. I’ve tested other approaches, on both myself and athletes I’ve coached, but I believe the two-intensity or polarised approach remains the most effective.
Athletes today have access to all sorts of training technology which is beneficial and has its place yet it can be relied upon too heavily. People, particularly at the start of their training journey, are purchasing GPS devices, power meters and the like to assist and are failing to listen to their body.
They become too reliant on the GPS to the extent that their inner-GPS is drowned out by the beep of a heartrate or numbers on a screen. What happens on race day if the GPS goes flat, reads incorrectly, or falls off the bike? I’ve experienced all three in a race so it’s not far-fetched.
Many an athlete has lost their race focus because their technology’s failed. We need to learn to listen to our inner-GPS. Listen to that gut instinct, our breathing rate and levels, that feeling in our legs telling us the pace is right. When has your gut instinct let you down in life?
What are the key pointers to help us gauge if we’re training or racing at the right intensity?
The simple talk test is perfect; endurance equals conversation, stamina equals sentences, speed equals words and sprint equals silence. Endurance and stamina are generally easy aerobic training, and speed and sprint is our moderate to hard training. Another simple trick is to run for an hour without a watch. Leave your watch at home, head out the door and run for what you believe is an hour. If you’re in tune with your inner-GPS, you’ll come pretty close to hitting the mark.
“endurance equals conversation, stamina equals sentences,
speed equals words and sprint equals silence”
Read more on this topic in my blog post 'Training Data - Where's The Balance?'