Training Load: How Much is Too Much?

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Avoiding Injury, Burnout, and Illness: Staying Fresh and Hitting Your Goals

How much is too much? Training load that is. A question that any athlete thinking about their next event should be asking themselves, ‘how do I go about deciding on the volume, intensity and timing components of my training plan?

Timestamps of what you’ll learn

[00:00:30] Hot sauce with sinister branding.

[00:05:08] Training load vs. volume.

[00:09:34] Training advice from a friend.

[00:11:00] Nutrition discussion

[00:16:39] Training plan and objectives.

[00:18:03] Building a strong foundation.

[00:22:03] Training load and periodization.

[00:26:41] Opportunity cost of training.

[00:29:11] Training by feel and objectivity.

[00:32:42] Periodized training and maintenance.

[00:36:09] Your strong why.

Training volume and load considerations.

Training volume and load considerations are crucial factors to consider when planning and executing a training program. In a podcast transcript, Darren Lake and Phil Cross discuss the importance of understanding how much training is too much and how to determine the appropriate volume and intensity for optimal performance.

The podcast hosts begin by acknowledging that the episode contains some foul language, urging listeners to use headphones or take necessary precautions if they may be offended. This sets the tone for a candid and honest discussion about training volume and load.

They emphasize that training volume is essential for all athletes, regardless of the sport they engage in. While they use triathlon as a baseline, they acknowledge that volume is equally important for single-sport athletes such as cyclists or runners. The hosts break down the concept of volume into three perspectives: what needs to be done, what can be done, and what should be done.

The first perspective focuses on specific goals an athlete might have for an event. Whether it’s simply finishing the race, qualifying for something, or achieving a specific time, the goals determine the necessary training volume. This perspective helps athletes have a clearer idea of what they need to do in terms of volume.

The second perspective considers an athlete’s capacity in their life. They discuss the importance of understanding what volume is realistic and possible for an individual based on their personal and professional commitments. This perspective helps athletes gauge their available time and energy for training.

The third perspective delves into the subjective aspect of training volume. Athletes need to consider their own feelings and intuition regarding how much they should be training. This perspective acknowledges that training volume is not a one-size-fits-all approach and that each athlete’s needs and preferences may differ.

Clarity and planning are highlighted as essential components in determining the appropriate training volume and load. The hosts recognize that most athletes lead busy lives with various commitments, such as work, family, and social relationships. They emphasize the importance of finding a balance and planning training sessions accordingly.

The hosts briefly touch on the distinction between Type A and Type B personalities. Type A individuals are described as driven, goal-oriented, and achievement-oriented, while Type B individuals are more laid-back and go-with-the-flow. They note that some athletes may exhibit characteristics of both types, and that understanding one’s personality traits can influence training volume decisions.

Additionally, the podcast highlights the relationship between volume and intensity. They argue that total training load is a better frame to consider, as it encompasses both volume and intensity. It is not just about doing a lot of long, slow, easy miles, but also understanding the appropriate intensity to avoid overexertion and potential injuries.

Training load is important for athletes.

Training load is a critical factor for athletes looking to optimize their performance and avoid burnout or injuries. It involves considering both training volume and load considerations to ensure that athletes are pushing themselves enough to see improvements, but not pushing themselves too hard to the point of exhaustion or injury.

Training volume refers to the amount of training an athlete completes, typically measured in terms of time or distance. It is important for athletes to find the right balance between doing enough training to see improvements and avoiding overtraining. Overtraining can lead to decreased performance, increased risk of injury, and mental and physical fatigue.

On the other hand, training load takes into account not only the volume of training, but also the intensity and stress placed on the body during training sessions. It considers factors such as heart rate, power output, and perceived exertion. By considering these factors, athletes can better understand the impact of their training sessions on their bodies and adjust their training accordingly.

One way to measure training load is through tools such as Strava’s stress score or Training Peaks’ TSS score. These scores provide a numerical value that represents the load of a particular training session. They take into account factors such as duration and intensity to give athletes an idea of how much stress their bodies experienced during the session.

Understanding training load is especially important for newer athletes who may be unsure of what volume of training to do. These athletes may not have the experience or knowledge to gauge their own limits and may benefit from using tools such as training load scores to guide their training. By monitoring their training load, athletes can gradually increase their volume and intensity over time, allowing their bodies to adapt and improve without risking injury or burnout.

Experienced athletes also benefit from considering training load, as they may have learned through trial and error what works best for their bodies. They may have experienced the negative effects of overtraining or undertraining in the past and can use their knowledge to find the optimal training load for their individual needs.

It is important to note that training load is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Every athlete is different and has different capacities and goals. What works for one athlete may not work for another. Therefore, it is important for athletes to listen to their bodies and adjust their training accordingly.

Longest run before race.

In the podcast transcript, the speaker discusses the importance of the longest run before a race. They mention that their upcoming race is in September and they want to ensure they are adequately prepared. They emphasize the need to gradually build up their endurance and stamina in order to avoid injury and burnout.

The speaker starts by calculating what 85% of 90 minutes is, as they believe this should be the duration of their longest run. They admit that they are not sure of the exact calculation and estimate it to be around 75 minutes. They express their desire to avoid jumping from a 50-minute run to a 90-minute run, as it could be risky and potentially lead to difficulties during the race.

They then discuss their training plan, which consists of two phases: a maintenance stage and a base stage. The maintenance stage will last for four weeks and will involve maintaining their current level of fitness. This will be followed by an eight-week base stage, where they will focus on building their aerobic base. They emphasize the importance of this phase, comparing it to building a foundation for a skyscraper. They explain that this foundation takes time to build and is essential for achieving long-term gains.

After the base stage, the speaker plans to enter a 12-week build phase, where they will incorporate higher intensity workouts. They mention that they will not push themselves too hard during this phase, but will include a few workouts to improve their speed and anaerobic capacity. They explain that each week, they will allocate 45% of their race time to intense workouts, gradually increasing the duration as the weeks progress.

The speaker acknowledges that their approach may not work for everyone and that individuals may need to find a method that suits them best. They emphasize the importance of avoiding injury, burnout, and illness, and stress the need to stay fresh and focused in order to achieve their goals.

Define your why, work backwards.

“Define your why, work backwards” is a key concept discussed in the podcast. It emphasizes the importance of setting clear goals and understanding the reasons behind those goals. By defining the why, individuals are able to establish a strong motivation and purpose for their training.

Working backwards from the goal is another crucial aspect highlighted in the podcast. It involves reverse engineering the training plan, starting from the desired outcome and breaking it down into smaller milestones. This approach allows individuals to have a clear roadmap and direction for their training, ensuring that they are on track to achieve their goals.

Define must-do sessions, choose goal.

The podcast begins by discussing the significance of defining “must-do sessions” and choosing a goal in the context of training. The host suggests that these elements are crucial for creating a structured and effective training plan. By identifying the key workouts that are non-negotiable, individuals can ensure that they are dedicating sufficient time and effort to the most important aspects of their training.

The podcast highlights that a lot of the benefits in training come from these key sessions. These workouts are where individuals are likely to see the most gains and improvements in their performance. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize these sessions and make them a priority in one’s training schedule.

Furthermore, the podcast acknowledges that endurance athletes often tend to pad out their training with base miles or “fluff” training. While these types of workouts may have their place, the host suggests that individuals can do a lot for themselves by focusing on the must-do sessions. By defining these sessions and making them non-negotiable, individuals can ensure that they are dedicating their time and energy to the most effective and beneficial aspects of their training.

Wrapping It Up

In conclusion, training volume and load considerations are crucial for athletes to optimize their performance and avoid burnout or injuries. By considering specific goals, personal capacity, and subjective feelings, athletes can determine the appropriate training volume for their individual needs. Planning and balancing training sessions with other life commitments are essential for a successful training program. Additionally, understanding the relationship between volume and intensity helps athletes maintain a balanced and effective training load.

Training Peaks, CTL
Strava, Fitness and Freshness
Strava Suffer Score
MAF Formula