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Teaching Old Dogs New (Old) Tricks

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I spent Sunday at NENSA’s coaches clinic at the Dublin School in Dublin, New Hampshire.  Thanks to Rob Bradlee, Kathy Maddock and Dublin’s host, Brad Bates, for a great day.  On the 90 minute ride back to Norwich, I contemplated how Firstbeat’s technology can help junior athletes and coaches at all levels of sport - not just the elite level.  


I asked myself a simple question.  What is the single biggest lesson I have learned using Firstbeat?  The answer is just as simple.  The cost of poorly executed easy training is far greater than I ever imagined and surely results in (1) poorly executed intensity training, and (2) either overtraining and injury or the need to alter the training plan.  I have been actively involved in running and skiing since I was a child.  Yet here I am at 50 learning a lesson we all have known to be true for years.  


What is it about Firstbeat’s analysis that drives that point home?  Again, the answer is simple. Firstbeat provides a graphic representation of workload (EPOC) and we quickly learn that EPOC does not increase in a linear way.   A well executed easy run will produce a EPOC workload somewhere between 20 and 40 ml/kg.  It is shockingly easy to go slightly harder (5% change in average heart rate) and produce a workload that is even as high as 100 ml/kg — 2.5 times the optimal level.  Exacerbating this problem, it is easier for younger athletes and less well condition athletes to zoom right through the easier workload levels.  Consequently, in those times when one most needs easy, aerobic training it is easiest to make a mistake. 


Rob Bradlee astutely pointed out in the seminar that cross-country skiing and running tend to attract highly motivated kids.  Getting them to train hard is not difficult.  It is more difficult to teach them the importance of training easy.  Maybe with this new technology we can help kids learn this lesson well at 14 and 15 rather than writing about learning it 35 years later! 

F*&$ the Warm-up I have a Goal Pace!

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Who needs a warm-up on an easy day right?

Whenever I go out for a run whether easy or hard - I want to know my pace.  Current pace, average pace, pace for the first mile, pace for the last mile - you name it I want to see it.  Even on an easy day, I surely have a goal pace in mind as I head out the door.  Obviously, this fixation (addiction) comes with lots of potential training dangers.  

Let's focus on one for today - the need for a warm-up even on easy days.  What happens when an athlete jumps out the door, turns on the GPS and launches right into goal pace?   The results are not pretty.  

Using the term "athlete" loosely, Jim did a little experiment.  He ran the same 5 mile stretch of bike path on two different days.  One the first day he started out at his goal pace of 8:30 per mile.  His average HR for the day was 143 and his total EPOC workload was 132.  Several days later he ran the same route but this time he started out at 10:00 per mile for the first mile and then resumed his 8:30 pace.  His average heart rate was 136 and his EPOC workload was 97. 

Here are the screen shots from Firstbeat:

Day One

Day Two:

The training session without any warm-up resulted in a small increase in average heart rate - 5%.  But the workload was 27% greater!  Any benefit to the increased workload?  I don't think so.  Just another foolish withdrawal from the EPOC bank account. 

Invitation to Disagree!! Thoughts on Threshold Training

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Ok so a blog post trumpheting the Galanes' disagreeable nature is hardly news.  But please read on.  One of our goals for this blog and indeed for our training concept is to foster discussion that might in the long run help athletes train smarter and better and as a result ski, bike or run faster.  So - we pugnaciously invite you to comment and see if we can all learn a little something.

Overdraft and the Allure of Shiny Training Babbles

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o·ver·draft noun " a deficit in a bank account caused by drawing more money than the account holds."

What is EPOC and How Does Tracking it Help You?

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Obviously Epoc Performance Training thinks EPOC is a key component to structuring and implementing training - It is so important we named our company after it! 

Recovery Follow-Up

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Recovery Analysis - A Follow-Up In a recent post we asked a question:  "How Much is Effective Recovery Analysis Worth to You?"   Today we thought it might be helpful to make the discussion a bit more theoretical.  We want to provide you with Firstbeat's basis for its Recovery analysis as compared to other methodologies.  Rather than recreate the wheel, we are providing a link to Firstbeat's White Paper;  Recovery Analysis for Athletic Training Based on Heart Rate Variability

How Much is Effective Recovery Analysis Worth to You?

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Training does not make you stronger, faster or fitter. Those benefits only come during recovery, when adaptation takes place. No matter how hard you train, without adequate recovery, you’ll not only squander your hard training effort – you’ll also struggle to recuperate for your next session. 

EPT's New Blog Is Launched!

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Jim Galanes and his team at Epoc Performance Training are excited to announce the launch of their new blog.  We hope to post interesting, challenging and thought-provoke training ideas on a regular basis.  Please stop by from time to time.  We welcome a free exchange of ideas and would particularly love to hear from anyone who may disagree with our point of view.  There's no better way to learn than through a respectful exchange of ideas!