Hi Mark,

I just came across the recent article, and felt that I may have a few interesting words.

The quotes from Peter G.J.M Janssen hit me hard when I found them in the book. No question, the really intense lactate training seems to take a few days to come back from, and produces annoying stiffness. However, I do believe there is a magic bullet in the fringe zone just below that. I have found: when I take your training sessions, and modify them a bit so that the workout lasts close to 60 minutes, the carryover in to my endurance, lack of food needs, mental outlook, and physical mobility, during an 8 hour intensely laborous work day is exceptional.

During the workout, my intention is to keep my breathing as hard as possible; rest is taken by walking around a bit, only as long as it takes to pull it together enough to move on to the next complex/set. I avoid the entering in to excruciating lactate; partly by weight selection (50 lb DB), partly by the pacing of the runs, or rope jumps, or plyometrics in between the weightlifting. The format of the intervals is used as a guideline, if lactate gets too uncomfortable, right away I back off, and resume as soon as I can. The principle is too keep moving intensely for as long as I can (the goal is 90 minutes,) just feathering the edge of lactate.

The super intense, and structured, intervals are still very important; however, I think they fit in the same category as long endurance -- important, but used carefully. The testosterone lowering aspect of excessive endurance is annoying. I swear that I notice a softness develop in my muscles when that type of training is overdone. Also, the shaky feeling from heavy weightlifting, or 30-60 minute ascensions, seems to feel healthy, and rejuvenates the rest of the day -- after some rest, and a meal. On the contrary, a long run, or ski tour, seems (to me) to have a more damaging effect that feels different -- more beat up, or sort of starved out. I theorize that the demands on the glycogen, the protein supply, and the hydration systems, are heavily hammered. (sounds obvious, but I mean that maybe athletes underestimate how much food, and water it takes to truly come back.)

Heavy lifting + 30-90 minute ascensions -- lots of volume

Intense lactate training + Long endurance -- careful use

Just a fellow athlete throwing some ideas out on the table.

Regards,

Answer

Mike,

Thanks for the note. I'm amazed you found that article so quickly, within 24 hours of me having posted it, I think.

Let me first say the article is incomplete, rather it presents an incomplete view. I wanted to hammer home the point that increased intensity cannot make up for a lack of volume, which is the premise of the "free lunch" idea to gaining endurance fitness. The scope narrowed because of it.

To be sure, the zone right around (so-called) lactate threshold and just below it is where the money is for nudging the threshold upward without compromising recovery and training frequency. It's one area of emphasis along the way to an endurance peak, after the volume is done. Development of LT in sport-specific movement is essential. We have a guy in that cycle right now, basically doing 2-3x LT interval sessions, 2x strength sessions and 1-2 over-distance sessions per week. He's seven months into his preparation, and six weeks from starting his taper.

I agree that both structured intervals and long endurance sessions are important, and both should be treated with respect. One issue with intervals - or any training for that matter - is the objective: which intensity for which duration with what length recovery interval produces the desired result? The individual first has to decide what he or she wants, learn the task requirements, then test for function and weakness, figure how to correct the weakness while also training other characteristics, do the training and progress it as one adpats to it, etc. Plenty of folks do intervals but I reckon few actually know what to do or how to reach a particular goal. 2x interval sessions per week is about the max if done at appropriate intensity (to influence LT or VO2 Max). More are not better - until one's tolerance for them develops, and it does.

One certainly adapts to the long endurance sessions as well. I used to be utterly destroyed by rides or ski tours that I do today and then go to work. The development of endurance takes years. While the development of flexibility, or strength, or speed happens on a far more satisfying timeline. And no matter how evolved we still do what it is we are good at and adapted to thus enjoy. I often hear people who lift weights speak negatively about the negative affects of endurance training, and blah, blah, blah. But the reverse is also true. There's a good post about what is and is not "the one true way" here: http://fitnessintuition.com/2007/05/17/speed-thrills

On the hormone question, testosterone does indeed drop during an endurance effort. The body begins producing Cortisol and Aldosterone. It's a stress response. These hormones aid water retention, increase oxygenation, and facilitate unloading of O2 from RBCs at the muscle site. Cortisol stimulates fat metabolism, and, some say helps reduce inflammation. The so-called "catabolic hormones" have advantages during the effort but also a downside: if you don't go through a proper recovery process the catabolic effect can counteract many of the positive outcomes otherwise produced by the training. For sure there's a cost to going long. Just as there's a cost to focusing on the purely explosive. Everything costs something. Everyone pays.

I think this whole discussion comes down to how good one wants to be at a specific activity, or how good one wishes to be on a more general level. If one wants to find the limit of ability within a specific sport or task concessions must be made, and adaptations must be stimulated and allowed to happen. I think I made the comment about not wanting to be a human question-mark in order to ride a bike well, and then being willing because I saw the performance advantages, and this year I could care less about the fact that upper body strength and general strength suffers because of my focus on the bike. Obsession is how one gets things done.

We have a guy (fighter) who might well benefit from following a structure like what you described during his long-ish, power-endurance sessions in the gym. I'm not certain he'd know what a lactate threshold is or feels like but I may experiment with him a bit.

Thanks for stimulating more thinking.

I hope you are well.

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