The idea of high intensity training in endurance sports is not a new one. Over this past weekend, I had the opportunity to explore it in greater depth by completing the CrossFit Endurance Trainer Seminar, and in the process becoming a CrossFit Endurance Trainer (this is in addition to my CrossFit Level 1 certificate, which I completed back in June). The new view that CrossFit Endurance provides is that high intensity should be the mainstay of any endurance athlete’s training. While the debate rages on among the CrossFit Endurance community and the traditional endurance community (who CFE refers to as “LSD”– “long, slow distance”), the seminar reinforced my belief in the importance of strength, flexibility, power, speed coordination, agility, balance and accuracy for endurance athletes.
Too many triathletes, runners, cyclists and other endurance athletes overlook the importance of high-intensity workouts as part of their training, often seeing it as not necessary or a detriment even to their longer distance training. This couldn’t be more mistaken. This type of training is not just reserved for traditional “power athletes”, such as weightlifters, wrestlers or football players. Instead, it should be a core, foundational element of every athletes’ training, including endurance athletes.
Every triathlete, runner, cyclist, swimmer or other endurance athlete should apply four fundamental, “power-based” concepts to their traditional endurance-based training to maximize performance results:
- High-intensity, constantly-varied functional movement. Include 4-5 high intensity workouts (the exact number will depend upon the athlete) focused on weightlifting, gymnastics and/or monostructural movements. CrossFit provides a great structure for these type of workouts, but is not the only way to complete these type of workouts. That stated, athletes should place some sort of structure, either with proper research and understanding on their own or with the expertise of a coach, to ensure these workouts are organized safely and effectively for their goals.
- Long and short interval training. There is a tendency for many endurance athletes to just want to log miles and not worry about interval-based training. This is not only detrimental to performance, but also an easy way to burn out. For example, triathletes should undertake two workouts per sport (about 6 workouts), with about 4 of them being interval-focused and the other two being a longer distance tempo or time trial-paced workout.
- Sport-specific technique. Practice proper technique each and every time you undertake any sport. This seems obvious, but is often overlooked, with sloppy technique leading to inefficiencies, injury and burnout. Each of your workouts should include a technique drill as part of the warm-up or at the onset of the workout. For instance, before heading out for a run, include one or more Pose method running drills to remind and reinforce proper running technique.
- Mobility, mobility, mobility. A great limiter for many endurance athletes is lack of mobility. Include one or more mobility drills into your workout, ideally as part of your warm-down. Mobility drills do not need to take a lot of time, but they do need to consciously viewed as part of the workout or they could get overlooked. Which mobility drills you select will be a function of your greatest limiters or weaknesses.
These principles of course, should be applied in addition to other core aspects of a well-balanced program, including nutrition, mental skills training, race strategy, etc.. If you’re wondering how to do this or would like more info, feel free to reach out.