Fall Run­ning Ap­parel

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - DEPARTMENT - Nick Busca is a free­lance jour­nal­ist based in Lon­don, Eng­land.

The Method

The first point of Spindler’s ap­proach, which re­flects Trisutto’s, is the de­ci­sion to not use a spe­cific pe­ri­odiza­tion. In­stead, they use a rou­tine that con­stantly re­peats.

“What we try to es­tab­lish,” he ex­plains, “is a ba­sic week which the ath­lete can re­peat week af­ter week with­out chang­ing any­thing. Pe­ri­odiza­tion was never proved; there’s not one sin­gle study that proves that a 2:1 or 3:1 ap­proach would work (of load, load, down­load over week). It was es­tab­lished with stud­ies on weightlifters and it was only re­lated to their carb stores. It is a the­ory, a nice story that has noth­ing to do with re­al­ity.” In­stead, he says, “Our [Trisutto’s] ap­proach is born out of ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The ba­sic week us­ing Spindler and Trisutto’s ap­proach con­sists of a con­stant ses­sion struc­ture (swim-bike-run days are fixed), and with a con­stant amount of vol­ume that re­peats ev­ery week. Even­tu­ally, the sin­gle ses­sions change over time depend­ing on the time of year and spe­cific goals. And even at the very be­gin­ning of a train­ing plan, the week will al­ready look like a train­ing week that will be used through­out the whole year.

“Ath­letes know their struc­ture and they can plan their week be­cause it will not change,” adds Spindler. “And if you look the av­er­age of their train­ing over three to four months and com­pare them to an ath­lete train­ing with a pe­ri­odiza­tional ap­proach, they [the ones fol­low­ing Spindler’s ap­proach] will end up do­ing more work be­cause they will not lose many days of rest­ing. At the end, ath­letes who per­form con­sis­tently will be the bet­ter ath­letes on race day.”

Al­though, on a daily ba­sis, the struc­ture and the vol­umes are the same, of course the struc­ture will have spikes (train­ing camps for ex­am­ple) or lows (travel and other com­mit­ments), but the gen­eral idea is to keep con­sis­tency and rep­e­ti­tion over time.

In­ten­si­ties and the Bike

In terms of in­ten­si­ties, on the other hand, the Trisutto/Spindler ap­proach uses “re­verse pe­ri­odiza­tion” – shorter in­door ses­sions and a higher in­ten­sity work­outs early on in the sea­son (par­tic­u­larly for ath­letes liv­ing and train­ing where win­ters can be harsh or who have planned an early race like Iron­man South Africa) and longer aer­o­bic ses­sions out­doors closer to the race, or later in the sea­son, when the weather is bet­ter and doesn’t chal­lenge mus­cles and joints as much as in the win­ter be­cause of the cold.

Long aer­o­bic ses­sions in­doors (es­pe­cially on the wind trainer), ex­plains Spindler, can un­der­mine the willpower and mo­ti­va­tion of the ath­letes. “Willpower works like a mus­cle and gets tired,” he says.

His ath­letes can even have three short wind trainer ses­sions a day to keep the rou­tine fun, en­ter­tain­ing and in­tense. An­other way to keep the mind chal­lenged at all times, con­tin­ues Spindler, is to

At the end, ath­letes who per­form con­sis­tently will be the bet­ter ath­letes on race day.

in­cor­po­rate in­ter­val train­ing from the very be­gin­ning of the struc­ture. In this way the ath­lete knows he or she has a cer­tain power to tar­get (both dur­ing the in­ter­val spike and the re­cov­ery), and also keeps an eye on cadence and other pa­ram­e­ters.

Swim and Run

The swim ses­sions of this struc­ture, on the other hand, are al­most al­ways ex­e­cuted at race pace, thresh­old or faster and a lot of them in­volve the use of pad­dles and pull buoys.

“Only once ev­ery two weeks we have a ses­sion that has a 3 x 1200/1500 as a main set depend­ing on the abil­ity of the ath­lete,” he adds.

Fi­nally, the run­ning ses­sion is the area where Spindler is more care­ful.

“My two con­cerns,” he says, “are that the ath­letes don’t run too of­ten, be­cause that will lead to over-use in­juries. The sec­ond con­cern is that they don’t run too fast, so I slow them down all the time. They hate it, but it has proven to be very ef­fi­cient.”

At the same time, in or­der to mix things up and main­tain the ath­letes’ abil­ity to sus­tain a cer­tain speed over time, run­ning ses­sions at speed are main­tained once a week.


The whole idea be­hind this struc­ture, par­tic­u­larly for long-dis­tance races, is to re­duce the VLa­max – the max­i­mum rate of lac­tate pro­duc­tion in the mus­cles.

“This is just the most im­por­tant fac­tor in Iron­man long-dis­tance races,” he says, and that is why high in­ter­val ses­sions per­formed in the win­ter with lower cadence are in­te­grated with longer and less in­tense rides closer to the race. The long rides, of course, are also ben­e­fi­cial to get used to the aero po­si­tion, to train the static mus­cles and get the body used to stay­ing in the same po­si­tion for a long period of time.

Once again, Spindler says that their method works for some, but not for all: “You can qual­ify for Kona in 12 hours (of train­ing per week), but that does not mean this is the max­i­mum of train­ing load that would ben­e­fit the ath­lete. It’s very likely [from my ex­pe­ri­ence], but the same ath­lete could de­velop more from more hours.”

The Doc’s Take

On this as­pect, the man be­hind the Trisutto model, Brett Sut­ton him­self, is a bit more cau­tious.

“It de­pends on what you’re try­ing to do. If you’re try­ing to qual­ify for Kona,” says Sut­ton. “I think 16 hours is more a rea­son­able out­come. But I have no doubt peo­ple can do an Iron­man with 12 hours of work.”

What Sut­ton high­lights, at the same time, is the fact that many ath­letes tend to train too much, over an­a­lyze their per­for­mances and over­think.

“A lot of them do a lot of junk miles,” he says, “but if you’re busy or a fam­ily man, you can trim a lot of that off.”

And it doesn’t mat­ter if an ath­lete is a pro­fes­sional or an age-grouper, the model used by Sut­ton is al­ways the same.

“I use the same kind of tem­plate,” he says. “Ob­vi­ously, an age-grouper will not go as fast, will not train as long and they won’t do it as of­ten as the pro­fes­sion­als. But, ba­si­cally, the struc­ture is ex­actly the same.”

When age-group ath­letes join Sut­ton’s train­ing camps for the first time, he says, they’re quite sur­prised when they see cham­pi­ons like Daniela Ryf and Ni­cola Spirig in lane 1 do­ing the same set as theirs, al­though longer and adapted to their abil­i­ties.

Fi­nally, what Sut­ton stresses is that most of the time a sim­ple ap­proach – which is truly tar­geted to the core of the sport – is the one that works the best.

“We look at the sport for what it is,” he says, “and the sport, for age-groupers or pro­fes­sion­als, in it­self, is aer­o­bic. It doesn’t mat­ter how many times or how many peo­ple want to make it com­pli­cated, the facts are that if you’re do­ing an Iron­man you have to go for X amount of hours. And that doesn’t change. It doesn’t mat­ter you much you’re try­ing to make it sexy and dif­fi­cult. Ba­si­cally, aer­o­bic is aer­o­bic.”

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