Improve your training results by better understanding the "how" and "why" behind your training. Get behind-the-scenes insight into the training optimization that produces your training each day. Learn how to get the most out of your training when life happens and things don't go as planned.
TriDot Podcast .05:
Behind the Scenes: Optimizing Your Training Schedule
This is the TriDot Podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We'll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let's improve together.
Andrew: Welcome to the show, everybody. I am excited, stoked, very eager to get going. We have some great stuff to cover and I have two of the best minds in triathlon training with me today. First up is the founder and CEO of TriDot, Jeff Booher. Jeff is the mastermind behind TriDot training software and the godfather of optimized training. Jeff, you ready to dive in today?
Jeff: Absolutely. Godfather. I love it. High stakes. You’re setting the bar pretty high. I hope we can deliver some value and have a lot of fun. So, let’s go.
Andrew: I think we certainly will. Also joining us is coach John Mayfield. John is a five-time Ironman finisher who has coached athletes to finishes at every U.S. Ironman event. He also serves as the director of athletes services for TriDot. John, thanks for being here.
John: Yep, I've kissed the ring and I am ready to go.
Andrew: And who am I? I'm your host, Andrew, the average triathlete, voice of the people, and captain of the middle of the pack. We will warm up today with a real clever post that came in from a TriDot athlete on our Facebook page that I'm going to share with the guys. For our main set, Jeff and John are going to answer all of my questions about TriDot’s Training Calendar. Then we'll cool down with a segment we call Triathlon Myth Busters, where my guest today will either confirm or bust a principle commonly believed by the multi-sport world. Let's get it going.
Time to warm up. Let's get moving.
Andrew: Recently, a TriDot athlete posted this on Facebook: “Being a two-year TriDot vet, and a two-time Ironman finisher, I feel that I'm starting to become a connoisseur of sore-body aches in the same way a sommelier appreciates wine. Transitioning to the shorter development phase of the season creates a more direct, brighter kind of ache like a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. This compared to the deeper-level, full-bodied ache of peak hours and race prep, where dull throbbing of the neck and crotch from long rides and more subtle tones in the ankles and feet are more of a Malbec or older Bordeaux.” Now, guys, you don't have to be a wine drinker to appreciate the humor here. Ron's post led me to wonder, what is something else that you have compare triathlon to?
Jeff: Well, first of all, that's hilarious. That's pretty creative. I don't know if I could be as eloquent as that. I think it makes a great point about just the sacrifice and the struggle, something that's so elegant as wine drinking yet, we’re out there suffering and struggling and we just gotta love the pain and the challenge, and all you put yourself through. I guess what I think of, I know a lot of people that don't do triathlons are always joking around about, “Yeah, I'd rather be fat and out of shape than put myself through all that.” Kind of the “ends doesn't justify the means.” But when I was in the service, an army buddy of mine, we were studying a lot of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA kind of stuff, and he was training and he’d come home just black and blue and beat up and sore, same kind of stuff like that, you know, the self-defense. He said, “Man, you know, I'm enduring this every single day for years and years and years and odds are I may never need it. So, why don't I just bypass all this and just, if I get my ass kicked someday, just so be it?” And so it was kind of funny, but that is what I thought when you read that post by Ron.
Andrew: Yeah, I think, like an MMA, anybody in that kind of a sport, I mean, same as triathlon, like to be successful in that sport and to enjoy that sport, there's a certain degree where you have to, you have to love the training. You have to embrace the fact that it's, because for us, you go through a hard training day and you're sore the next day, it's like a satisfying feeling. And that's kind of what Ron's getting at here. You know, in the same way, that for somebody who gets to the weekend after a long week of tough work, that glass of wine can be so satisfying as a reward. I mean, I think a lot of us view it as the kind of satisfying reward of the hard work we put in. But John for you, what's something that maybe you've compared triathlon to?
John: I’m more of a whiskey drinker, so I'm not so sure about all those wines, but there's a great golf quote from Mark Twain that says golf is a good walk gone bad. So, I think we've had a few trips to the pool or maybe a few times out on our bikes that maybe were nice long rides gone bad. But yeah, it's all about loving the pain and enjoying the sacrifice and reaping the rewards of the work that we put in.
Andrew: Yep, so, so true. I know for me what I'm constantly comparing endurance sports to is going to a social function. And so for me and my wife if we go to a wedding, if we go to a house party, if we go to a baby gender reveal, whatever it is, right, you're in a house with a bunch of people. For me, I self-describe as an extroverted-introvert. So, I recharge by myself, I need that time alone. But I do enjoy sitting down and talking to people and being around people. So, when we go to a social function, the question I always ask my wife, it's like, Are we going to be here for one hour or are we're gonna be here for eight hours? I can do either one, but I've got to know because if it's gonna be a one-hour thing, to me, it's like a 5K. I can go all out. I can just unleash my personality. I can go hard from the get-go and talk it up with people and be out of there in an hour. But if I'm gonna be there for eight hours, I've got to pace myself like a marathon. And I've got to know that I've got to kind of hold some energy in reserves because it's gonna be a while. So, that's something I find myself comparing it to.
On to the main set. Going in 3, 2, 1.
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So, today Jeff and John will explain everything about TriDot’s Training Calendar. Now when I first started using TriDot, I honestly thought I would feel confined to the program. But I immediately found trusting the process to be liberating. It freed me from the confines of the few workouts I knew how to do. Jeff, there are a ton of factors that generate what workout TriDot athletes do on any given day. Walk me through some of the main variables that generate the training schedule.
Jeff: Absolutely. There's a lot of built-in flexibility, of course, of moving your stuff around so that confinement’s not there. But I'll share, you mentioned the Training Calendar and that's what a lot of our athletes, our users say they see as the name of the screen that they're on, you know, daily training or the calendar that shows the week. But there's a whole lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. And before I dig into that and kind of lift the hood, and show what's going on there and describe it, I just really want to stress that there's a lot going on there and don't get hung up on all of that.
Andrew: Which is why we say, trust the process.
Jeff: Right, trust the process. So, it's not a need to understand all of that to be able to execute. The back end is sophisticated, the front end is simple. Just do the workouts, and you're going to get the result same as using a smartphone to travel somewhere you've never been. You don't have to understand GPS and satellite technology just to plug it in, here's where I want to go and follow the directions. So, there's a lot of technical stuff going in, but I know there's a lot of data geeks and nerds and people love, you know, to know and some people are just curious so they definitely want to know what’s going on.
Andrew: Absolutely. Especially triathletes.
Jeff: Yeah. So, I love it. I could do this all day. I promise we won't, but I'll try to keep it sustained, but share some of that. So, on the back end, you drop in a race, all of the data that an athlete enters goes in starting with the Season Planner, actually when you drop in a race, change race A, race B, whatever that is. There's a whole process of calculations to go, how much time is there between now and then, and how should the phases be broken up from phases to mesocycles, microcycles, and drills down. When it goes through that process, it takes an athlete, profile information, your age, your training age, your gender, your body composition, your TriDot Scores, your values, those are normalized on a scale of one to 100, your Swim Dot, Bike Dot, Run Dot of your functional threshold in each of those. So, we get an absolute value, and then a relative value, so we not only know that your bike is faster than your run, but by how much? And then we can look at your physiology and say, well should you be faster on the bike than run, you’re a big person, you have to carry your weight on the bike, but you use a mechanical wheel on the, you know, carry your weight on the run using a bike wheel and so there should be some differential there. So, we can actually look at what are the physiological improvement opportunities for each of those as we optimize. Then we have a training stress profile, which is an athlete’s ability to absorb stress over a certain period. So, whether it's neural stress, muscular stress, or aerobic stress, threshold stress …
Andrew: Because that’s very different for everybody.
Jeff: Absolutely. It is different per discipline, so you're able to do those differently because you've been doing the different disciplines longer, your body composition is different, your age. All of those things are different for each person, by discipline, by energy system you use, and then they're different by time period. So, each of those metrics, different disciplines, different energy systems, and then different time periods. How much stress can you take in, in a day in a microcycle, a week, a month, mesocycle? So, all of those are factored in. A bike-to-run factor is another thing when we compare your bike in your run in those, there's a lot of overlap there. So, if you stress one over the other, there's a cost. And so we look at that opportunity costs.
Andrew: Because we have three sports to train for and not just one.
Jeff: Exactly, right. Yeah. And this one doesn't overlap as much, some, but the bike and run sure do. So, if you're going to emphasize one, you need to look at why, what does emphasizing it mean? Does it mean more intensity, more time, more frequency, more overall volume or all three?
Andrew: What does that do to the other sport.
Jeff: Correct. What do all of those things do? So, what levers are you pulling? It's easy to say bike-focused or run-focused. So, that goes into your optimization, your weekly volumes, and currently what you're doing by each discipline, your current long sessions, how far you go, not just that particular week, but there's an algorithm that looks over the past several weeks, four to six weeks to see what kind of a long session are you capable of doing, while keeping your injury risks and check. Then there's your actual projected race splits. So, we look how long is it gonna take you to finish these races, what does your long session, your terminal long session need to be? So, when we're three weeks, four weeks out from a race, what does that long session need to be? What is your incrementable duration from week to week we can get to, how much time do we have between the two now and then? What B races are in there, even the race beyond the current phase, does that race have a higher demand than the current? So, if you're training for an Olympic in seven weeks, but 10 weeks after that you have an Ironman, well this phase needs to have a higher long-run, long-bike anticipating the phase that follows. So, there's all of those kind of things going on to that.
Andrew: Yes. So, a few factors.
Jeff: A few. And then and you're looking at taper recovery requirements, we pull in, we're synced in with Strava, and Garmin and Polar, and we're pulling your health data, stress data, resting heart rate, all of that kind of stuff, even your genetics. So, we're pulling in your genome file, we track about 20, a little more than 20 snips. Those are single nucleotide polymorphisms. Big word there. So, that's like –
Andrew: What a word to drop on the podcast. John, can you say that word?
Jeff: So, those are markers on your genes and helps us determine from a genetic standpoint, what's your training response is going to be, your aerobic potential, your recovery rate, your injury predisposition. And then we can plan accordingly when we look at those volume changes, increases, how much intensity can you take and kind of what's optimal. And then drilling even further down to the day, the week, and the time of day, even. So, we're looking at elevation, temperature, humidity, what should your training intensities be if you're doing a workout in the morning, afternoon, inside, outside, and calibrating everything. So, there's a lot, you mentioned that's a lot of data, yes. It's something that has been incremented over 15 years. We continue to get more and more and more granular, as we learn more and more about how the human body responds to training. And so with tens of thousands of athletes and tens of millions of training files have been prescribed and doing it in a methodical, normalized, standardized way, we can track measure and improve. Unless you're tracking to this degree, you can't measure it to this degree, and if you're not measuring, you can't improve it. It's not improvable if it's not measurable, objectively standardized.
Andrew: Yeah, and that's one of the crazy things about TriDot over, just you know, if people have like a cookie cutter triathlon training program, is that TriDot is always evolving. It's always learning. Right? So, it's like you said over the course of all those years, I mean, 11,000 calculations happening over millions of data files that athletes have uploaded over the years. I mean, it's just constantly improving how you need to train.
Jeff: Exactly, right. Yeah. We had about three, I guess there’s more, four-five years ago now, 2015, we were upgrading our optimization engine and the engineers that were working on it, he was just fascinated with it and all. He just came from a mechanical engineering background. I've been doing this for 20 years, but it was just kind of fascinated, like wow, triathletes, this is pretty cool. And so he said, he ran a test, he wanted to see when optimization occurred for a training phase, how many calculations were happening and it's a functional training, a functional language, Erlang, anyway, that’s the technical side of it. But he said he tracked how many simultaneous calculations were occurring. And he said, when he checked, there's more than 11,000 individual calculations happening at the same time. So, there's more than that, they were stopping and starting –
Andrew: And that’s for one athlete for one phase?
Jeff: One athlete, one phase, yeah.
Andrew: And so that's how many calculations are choosing what workout is on your training plan for that particular day.
Jeff: Yeah, that's all of the workouts on all the days because they're all in context. There's nothing done in isolation. Everything relates to and impacts everything else around it.
Andrew: So, there are so many individual swim, bike, and run workouts that appear on an athlete's schedule. Jeff, how does TriDot choose which workout to prescribe on each day?
Jeff: So, there are optimal ways of setting things up. We build again, like I mentioned, from the season to the phase to the mesocycle, microcycle, down to daily sessions. So, there's a lot of options. There's weekly patterns that we use where the user can enter their preferences. One of the things that you look at when you see a daily session, I guess, at a more granular level, a lot of times you'll hear athletes talk about distance-based workouts. Like I'm doing one-mile repeats today or you've heard of that and so you go out and do those. And anytime there's distance based sessions, they always need to be derived from the duration. I know there's a lot of Ds there. But your body doesn't know how much ground you cover when you're working out. All it knows is here's how hard I'm working, and here's how long I need to hold that. And so we come at it from that standpoint, what is the optimal time period for the particular effort level for that particular individual on that day, that set, that repeat, whatever it is, and then we back into the distance they need to cover. And so sometimes you might have athletes, like distance-based-run, they might be doing 1200 repeats or 1400 repeats, or 1600, 1800 whatever to be in that sweet spot of here's how long you need to hold that intensity for the optimal effect.
Andrew: And that's an even change, like I think of like the swim workouts that appear on my training program. They'll have certain names, and so there's one that's threshold 300s. And every time a threshold 300 workout is prescribed to me, that workout might be a little bit different each time it's prescribed because it's not necessarily about –
Jeff: Exactly, right. It's not about that particular set, I guess, being done a certain specific way. For example, it could be that broken 150s or threshold 300, or whatever that is. A particular person that needs that workout, the structure of that workout and the components, they may not cover a 300 in the same amount of time that you cover a 300. So, someone else can have threshold 150s, threshold 250s, 400.
Andrew: And it serves the same purpose as my 300s?
Jeff: Well, it's the same, if you took out the distance covered, it would be a certain number of repeats for a certain amount of time, with a certain amount of rest. You're covering 300, someone else is covering 200, someone else is covering 400, and so it's done that way. So, for a particular swim set, there's 280 variations for every single swim. So, it's based on intensity level, how fast you're going, how far you're covering those different distances, breaking it up by 50s and then different times, is that whole workout, squeezing into 40 minutes, an hour and 10, an hour 20. And so there's a different amount of rest in between sets or round of efforts. So, one set has many, many different versions or combinations.
Andrew: I know I'm glad that there is somebody else doing all that work for me and I just have to get my workout and go to the pool and get it done and I reap the benefits from it. So, when we complete a workout, TriDot gives us a TrainX Score, based on how closely we completed the workout as prescribed. Now, we'll talk in depth about TrainX another day, but for now, do these scores affect our upcoming training?
John: No, not directly. So, the data that is used to populate the TrainX Score is the same data that is used to influence future training, but the score itself does not have an impact on future training. So, really, the intent of TrainX is to provide objective feedback back to the athlete as to how well they achieved the purpose of that session. So, what kind of session it is, is going to determine how it's scored, how it's created, based on that incoming data. So, whether a session is a threshold set, whether it's a stamina set, whether it's active recovery, the intent of the session is really going to determine how and even what metrics are used to score it. So, for example, we primarily use pace and power to score the threshold sets, the stamina sets, because those are more objective metrics to use. However, on things like active recovery, and the easy runs at zone two, where you utilize heart rate for that, because that's the intent of those sessions is to provide for that easy set, either to develop that aerobic efficiency or to provide for that active recovery. So, really, it's a motivation tool. So, it's that immediate gratification when you nail a set, and you come back and you see that score and you get that little bit of a reward, little bit of applause, even if it's just you and –
Andrew: I believe they TriDot athletes out there call it the unicorn when they get 100 on a workout they weren’t expecting to get 100.
John: And so it's motivation. So, I know for me, I go out with every set with the intent of trying to maximize my TrainX Score, and I'm always real quick coming back to sync my data, so I can see exactly what my score was. And that's really what it is. It's a gain. It's something that's fun. It does not influence future training, but it's just really something for the athlete, to use as motivation and accountability.
Andrew: So, whether I scored an 86, or whether I scored a 93, that's not necessarily affecting what my training is going to be moving forward?
Jeff: That's correct. That doesn't directly affect the same data that affects that score affects your future training, but that score itself doesn't. So, there's an indirect relationship, but I think the most powerful thing is that affects people's desire to do the training as prescribed. And there's no perfect session, you can't control all the variables around you, all kinds of stuff can happen, your watch can, whatever, stuff happens. But when people have that focus, that metric, and they say they just want to get a good respectable score, not perfection, but you know, 70, 80, 90, somewhere in there, if they keep trying to do it, they're going to be very , lot better at performing, in the long run, their sessions, and they're gonna start learning how to do all of the sessions better. And if you get in there, not looking for perfection, but looking to do the best you can on that day, you're going to get so much more out of the training. So, in that regard, it directly affects your training.
Andrew: Got it. So, assessment weeks are a monthly staple on the Training Calendar. Many TriDot users express a love-hate relationship with the assessments. Why does TriDot schedule these once a month?
John: So, these are incredibly important sessions. If we had to identify what was the most important session that's in an athlete's training plan each month, it would probably be these assessments because they serve so many functions and they're repeated on a regular basis for several reasons. First, it establishes their functional thresholds in the swim, bike, and run. And this provides us with several pieces of information. It's used for benchmarking their progress. So, we want to see these assessments improve month a month, that gives us that objective measurements of how an athlete is progressing and how they're improving. Their intensities are based on these assessment results. So, their paces on the swim, their power, and heart rate zones on their bike, the heart rate zones and paces on the run are all based on results of these assessments. So, we want to make sure that those are current. If the athlete goes 2, 3, 4 months without updating their assessments, they're now using stale data for their training intensity. So, we want to make sure that the athletes are training at the proper intensity for their current fitness level, not where they were three or four months ago, for better for worse. So, sometimes athletes take time off. They shouldn't be running the same pace that were running three, four months ago. Or maybe they should be running faster than they were three, four months ago, but we don't know that. We don't know exactly what that pace should be without testing to determine these functional thresholds, which in turn, determine their assessments. They're hard sessions, they're all out, best effort, which is probably why a lot of the athletes don't like them because it's the polar opposite of a nice, easy session that, you know, a stroll through the park. These are hard but that's part of racing. It's a race skill that has to be developed, so it's very much a race-day skill being dialed in. So, if the only time –
Andrew: It’s a little bit of learning how to push yourself, it's learning how to hurt.
John: It’s learning how to race. If you show up to a race and you haven't really pushed yourself or gotten uncomfortable, gone to that place that we refer to as pain since your last race, the guy who's been practicing every month is probably going to beat you. Because he has that skill, he has that ability level, and it's really something that does have to be dialed in and refined. So, it's learning what it feels like to push your body, it's being okay with that uncomfortable feeling of pushing the body. And so there are several other things that it achieves, but they are very important. They update the training, they update the intensities, they benchmark progress, and they really teach the athlete how to race.
Andrew: I know some athletes and myself when I first came on, sometimes you'd be tempted to skip the assessment for a month. And you think to yourself, like oh, like this week isn't ideal for me. I know, I'm not gonna perform my best this week, there's no way I can hit the paces that I think I can hit. And so they kind of put it off. But I heard a coach tell me one time, like, hey, the assessment, it's for the benchmarking that you just talked about, but there's also the purpose of its kind of a recovery week. Can you talk about that just a little bit?
Jeff: It is. The overall volume in those weeks goes down, intensity on other days goes down. So, there is a dependence on this one to be your training value. If you think about going into that training week and if you skip that workout, you say, “Oh my benchmark, I'm not ready for it, I don't think it's going to improve, I already know what my 5K is.” You're going to go very long, you can go up to 10 days without any significant quality, which you're gonna have a detraining during that time. And so we're counting on this not just for the benchmarking, the mental toughness, the skills, the stress the grit factor, but to also have that training value. And so you're going to push to that level. It’s not an interval, it’s a constant effort, so you're going to give that effort there so that it has a very significant training value. It’s generally right in the middle of the week. It depends on how you structure your weekly pattern based on your preferences, but it's generally going to be in the middle of the week when you do that.
Andrew: Now a typical week for me is a swim on Monday and Friday, cycling on Tuesday and Thursday, a run on Wednesday and Sunday, and a longer brick workout on Saturday. Now, this obviously, will vary a little for everyone. But what is the reason for a consistent pattern?
Jeff: There's a lot of reasons for that, what you just described is kind of the base, the default, that's the optimal week and there's a reason that's the optimal –
Andrew: I'm glad I’m doing the optimal week, good to know.
Jeff: So, if you log in, onboard to TriDot, that's the weekly pattern that's going to be there. You can come in and change that, you can add off-days and change your long run, your long bike around. But that's the best, so we call that a weekly pattern. The good thing for the consistency is because you get into a routine, your body gets into routine, you make sure that there's adequate rest in between the different quality workouts, that they're spaced out, that your bikes and your runs are spaced out, the quality, and that you're getting this intermittent stimulus to the different energy systems. And so there's some things that are working, your aerobic fitness in different areas and you want to optimize that training. So, making sure that they're all spaced out is great. I think linearly when I'm thinking through the pattern, usually, the pattern is driven by when it starts with when your long bike has to be. You know, certain people, I can only do the long bike, you know, I can’t do that in the middle of the week. So, there's one day that has to be, maybe two, Saturday-Sunday. Then next is your long run, when does that need to be? And the best day to do it is Wednesday. If you're doing on a Friday or Saturday long bike. So, it’s spreading those out, so you’re having that long, sustained effort, you take a little bit longer to recover from them, and they're spread out. So, each one is better quality. And then the training around each one is also better because you're recovering more fully in between them.
Another big thing that people don't realize for having that Wednesday, get up early, just do that long run, get it done. The benefit of having that on a Wednesday is when you work in other A races or B races and you start to taper, if that's a weekend run, say it's a long run on Saturday, and a long bike on Saturday, long run on Sunday. If you're going into a race the following weekend, you're probably going to taper that long Sunday run that’s only seven days out. And then you're going to go do a race, and then you're probably gonna have recovery the following week, you're not going to be up for another long run. And so it might be two, two and a half weeks between long run to long run. So, if you have a B race training for an Ironman, that's three increasable weeks. But if you move that back to a Wednesday, you can do a long run on a Wednesday, race, not the next weekend, but the next weekend, that's only 10 days away, and then the following week, and then another few days. So, you have a Wednesday long run, probably a long run on that race. And so you're not going any more than a week and a half without that long run and so you're not losing that fitness. And so in the accumulation over a long period of time, you're having more sustainable consistent weeks with your long runs and your long bikes intact, and so there's a benefit there.
One of the worst scenarios when you drop in these off days and can you imagine doing your long bike on a Sunday, all right, and then your long run on a Wednesday and selecting Tuesday off. So, when you're doing that you have, your long bike is on a Sunday. So, you're not going to do another quality bike session on Monday, you're off on Tuesday, you're not running the same on Wednesday, so that leaves Thursday. So, you've had four days, the fifth day you're going to do another bike and then you can't do another one because two days later you're doing another long bike. So, there's implications and this cascading effect like a ripple effect of when days have to be. So, with having your long bike traditionally on a Saturday or Sunday, your long bike is going to be on the other weekend day or a Wednesday.
Andrew: Run in the middle of the week.
Jeff: Run in the middle of the week or even if it's not, you choose one of those three days typically, it's the middle of the week. And then you're gonna have an off-day or not, it’s better to not. Most people have an off-day because they overtrained on all the other days. If you have a sustainable weekly pattern that’s a good routine, then you break it down and every day is easier to absorb, and your body is used to that. You don't have an off-day of walking, you do everything else in life consistently every day.
Andrew: That’s very true.
Jeff: And that's just part of what you do. So, in all of those combinations, there's 28 possible combinations of weekly patterns, where you have to optimize where you drop those days. So, it's based on either default, or the user's preference. User says I want this day off, this long run, this long bike, and then there's a systematic ripple effect of how you in an optimized way put all of those other quality sessions and recovery sessions.
John: So, this is something I see self-coached athletes struggle with a lot, athletes that are new, that's it's a concept that's not always immediately grasped. But the frequency of workouts and the sequence of workouts are two very important training variables. I see a lot of coaches even neglect this when they're writing training plans. The way the sessions are planned out and how these sessions influence one another is an incredibly important variable. So, all of that is taken care of by these features that Jeff has been describing. So, it's just another advantage of utilizing optimized training so that you know that each one of these sessions is going to complement the next, and you're going to have adequate recovery one session to the next. That’s another thing we see that's a pretty common question among athletes coming to TriDot is why is there not a default day off? And the fact of the matter is, you only need a day off when your other days have not been structured properly. It is completely feasible to train seven days a week for months and years on end.
We've had hundreds of users that have been training seven days a week for years. And it's because what goes into those seven days is prescribed specifically for them. We're not having to rely on guesswork or assumptions to say, is this enough? Is this too much. You only need a day off when you've done too much. When you've done the proper amount of stress and you've done the proper amount of recovery, you can train perpetually seven days a week. And in doing so, you're able to achieve more in those seven days. So, there are instances where you need a day off, there are those where you have to take a day off. Sometimes folks just don't have a day available for training. So, that option is available, but I would say only use it in that case, when there's just a hard and fast rule that you cannot train on a given day. Otherwise, take the day off here or there when you need to, whether scheduled or body fatigue just says hey, I need a day off. That's absolutely fine. But there's no reason to schedule a day off every week. All you're really doing is reducing the amount of time to achieve the same amount of work. So, even scheduling a day off doesn't necessarily reduce the amount of training you have to do in a week. It just reduces the amount of time to achieve it.
Andrew: So, in a lot of ways when an athlete sees what workout is on their calendar for that day, it's about hey, this is the best workout for you based on all the factors we talked about earlier, but it's also, this is the best day for you to do this workout in relation of recovering for your other work.
John: Exactly. Yeah.
Andrew: So, another feature TriDot users enjoy is the fact that you can move workouts, right? I mean, you're not trapped. If it's swim day and you missed your swim, but you have the chance to go run later that night, you can move those workouts around. But based on what you're talking about, that doesn't sound like, it's allowable, but it's not, maybe the best thing to do, is that a good way to say it?
Jeff: It’s optimized. So, your training is optimized, but it's not about one workout. It’s the cumulative effect of all of these little optimizations over a long period of time. So, it's just more and more powerful. When you consistently do all these things the training is so much more effective. So, if you move one workout, skip one workout, anything, one workout is going to have a very minimal marginal effect on your overall fitness. And so just don't stress about that, that's another thing that I kind of mentioned in the very first start. You mentioned all these things that are happening in the back, all this optimization that’s happening, you're not going to jack it up, just do your best, do your best with the TrainX Score, every session do the best you can, try to get in all your sessions, if you can't, no big deal, move on. Whatever you do is going to be better and it's going to produce more results more effectively because of the optimization. So, life just happens. Don't stress about that.
John: And I would say when moving these sessions around, take these things we mentioned into consideration. What kind of session is being moved? Is it a long session? Is it a recovery session? Think about what are the implications of doing sessions back to back or three sessions in a row, and make sure that we're maintaining a frequency of workouts, a sequence of workouts that is going to be advantageous. We don't want to do four days in a row of hard runs. Or we don't want to have three days of easy recovery sessions in a row. So, those are the kinds of things that we want to consider and take into consideration when moving these sessions. It's a great conversation to have for those that work with a TriDot coach. They're experts at doing this and they can help with that. But the self-coached athletes can absolutely do this on their own as well. Just look at it, identify what the session is and when and where does it make sense to move that session?
Andrew: Both you guys have touched so well on already on what happens when life kind of gets in the way, you can skip a session, no big deal just so long as that consistency in training is there. So, let's say on a busy week if you can tell you're not going to get all of your scheduled sessions in, are there certain sessions you would recommend skipping over others?
Jeff: Absolutely. If you know ahead of time. First of all, if it just happens and you're not expecting it, just skip the session and move on. If you're looking ahead and there's two or three days and you have you know multiple workouts, you know, I can't get all these run workouts in or all of these bike work workouts in, get the quality session, the one with the most intensity in it, get that session. But if it's a longer period of time or you're looking just to prioritize, I would go if you're in a race prep phase, you're building up, you know your long sessions are increasing, make sure you get your long sessions in. That may mean if you're traveling for a week and you don't have access to a bike or you can't run or something like that, it may mean moving, you know, if you're leaving on a Wednesday and come back on a Tuesday or something like that, you might move your long session closer to right before you leave. And then as soon as you get back and do another one, so it decreases the amount of time in between long sessions. So, that's one strategy you can use. If you're not, always like I mentioned before, always use the quality session. Whatever has the most intensity in it, if you can only get in a few, do that. Try to get at least one session of each discipline in. And then after that, if you're going to prioritize, do the run, then the swim and then the bike. Consistency, your lower limb, durability, all that thing is so important on the run unlike the swim and the bike as much. And so that's much more important entry of prevention is injury is going to happen a lot more on the run. So, keeping that consistently consistent, and not stopping and starting is very important on the run. So, those are the things that I do. When I look at it, obviously, those are kind of done ad hoc, so that's not built in the optimization. So, you kind of have to adjust those, you can use your coach to help advise you on those.
Andrew: And that's why it is a great idea to invest in a coach at that point is when you know that there's a lot of life that gets in the way because they can advise you on those things. I know that, so I have a TriDot coach, Ryan Tibble, out there. He's awesome and has given me some great advice. And I did, John said it like five minutes earlier and I was laughing to myself, like, I went on a beach trip with my family over the summer, and I didn't take anything to swim, I didn't take anything to bike, and I was like oh, while I'm there, I'll just do all my running sessions. And so in three days back to back to back one of those was zone two run, but two of those were longer duration, with high intensity sprinkled in kind of runs. And I left that beach trip, my knee was kind of hurt and I had kind of a funky thing in my hip and I had to back off of running for 2, 3, 4 weeks because of just the minor tweaks I picked up by stacking all that running back to back to back. Is that kind of a common thing you hear from athletes?
John: Absolutely. And this is something that's very common that the coaches work with our athletes. So many of the athletes are busy professionals, they travel, they have families that are-- have things going on. So, rearranging the schedule is just a fact of life. Triathlon, for a vast majority of us, is a hobby and something that is secondary or even tertiary to work and family and all those kinds of things. So, we need to be flexible, and there's nothing wrong as we've mentioned with that. But doing it right is important and our TriDot coaches are a fantastic resource in understanding and knowing and making those recommendations of how to rearrange the schedule, which sessions to drop, which ones to prioritize to maximize your overall results on race day.
Andrew: I think we all have days where we're invited to join a club ride or a group run or something that kind of takes us out of our normal training routine for that day. But we're still logging some form of exercise. Does that abnormal exercise session impact the Training Calendar at all?
Jeff: Yeah, it definitely does. And again, it's not just one session. So, we're looking at the whole totality of the workout, not just even that session that week, but over the past four to six weeks, and what we can do. So, the more consistently you’re training, the better. There's a lot of ways that you can do that if you're riding with a group, right? I mean, people need their social fix. They want to get out there and that's important. That's just as important aspect of training –
Andrew: Yeah, I want to be part of my club, I want to train with TriDot.
Jeff: Right. And so there's just a lot of ways, choose to if they're going harder group, don't pull, stay in the back if you're on a bike if you need to ease off. Opposite, if you're stronger in the group, get out ahead. I know, when I was training for a while with a group that was kind of bringing on a lot of newer athletes. And we'd meet at a coffee shop seven o'clock and rolling out, I’d come at 6:20 and set up my trainer and get some threshold work in and then take it off the trainer. They get there and we go ride, but I get that and I get a few pulls that were pretty hard, go out front, circle around. And so you can work that stuff in if you need to. But any one session is not going to make or break your training.
Andrew: Now it goes without saying that the closer an athlete follows the program, the better the results. So, John, what advice do you have for our athletes on ways to follow the program?
John: Probably the most common tip I give is, “Consistency is your best friend.” Perfection is not required. Oftentimes, perfection can be counterproductive. Oftentimes, if you hit every single session prescribed in a month, there are probably sessions in there you shouldn't have done. Either you may not have been ready for the session, you may have made a sacrifice of something that wasn't necessarily necessary. So, I would say a well-balanced, well-rounded triathlete is going to miss a couple sessions every month. Hopefully, they're the lower quality sessions or the lower priority sessions, I should say. But consistency and training is going to be your best friend. That's where you're going to produce your best results, that's where you're going to still be able to enjoy the sport, that's where your job and your family is still going to be a priority. And it's going to afford you the opportunity to take the day off here and there, whether it be a day just where you're particularly busy and don't have time to get to the session. Maybe you're tired, maybe you've got an illness coming on, maybe you didn't sleep well. And oftentimes, in that case, the best thing for you to do is just take the day off. And when you've trained consistently, you're gonna have no negative impact for missing that session or two in that week. But yeah, if you've been sporadic in your training, and now you still have to miss additional sessions on top of that, that's going to be a much bigger impact. So, what I preach to everyone is consistency is your path to your best results. So, be consistent, don't be obsessed with being perfect, be consistent.
Great, said everyone. Let's cool down.
Andrew: It's time to cool down with a little Triathlon Myth Busters. Jeff, John, I'm going to pose to you a commonly believed principle from the multi-sport world and I want you to talk out with me whether this principle is true, or is it a myth. Are you both ready?
John: All right.
Jeff: Yep, let's go.
Andrew: Many training programs preach establishing base fitness through long, low intensity workouts further out from race day, and then increasing the intensity as you get closer to your race. Fact or a myth, is this the best way to build for a good race?
John: So, this is actually a principle that goes back decades and is one of those things that's kind of proliferated triathlon training for a number of years. But it's something that TriDot started challenging many years ago, and I've really even seen a shift in triathlon training shifting away from this traditional base period. So, really, what it's saying is that we should spend the early part of the season, developing an aerobic efficiency that is done, as you mentioned through high volume, low intensity. What we have been able to demonstrate to be the most effective is a principle we refer to as “fast before far, strong before long.” So, it's not just a clever saying it's actually based on data that we've collected. This is one of the things that we've been able to demonstrate through our Preseason Project that we've done year after year with thousands of athletes is that focusing on getting faster and stronger early in the season has a direct implication to your race results later in the year. So, while aerobic efficiency is important to develop, we don't want to develop that aerobic efficiency at the cost of functional threshold. So, what we're able to do through optimized training, is still develop that aerobic efficiency and functional threshold so that the athlete arrives at race day, well rounded and at their best to perform on race day.
Andrew: Jeff, do you agree that this is a myth?
Jeff: Absolutely, I do. I think the more data we have, we can certainly prove that it's been at least 13-14 years since we've been doing things very differently. And that's just, we didn't have a predisposition to do that, that's just what we found that worked. And so we go where the data goes. So, I think there's actually multiple myths in there. Some are just, it’s not the best way. That's known, what you described, as a high volume ,and then later as you get closer to the race, you taper the volume and increase the intensity and you're looking for a super compensation of training stimulus. So, you're able to absorb all the stimulus and so you're training one kind for the other, and so you have this overcompensation. That's fine, that's true in some settings and that works, but from that overall standpoint of your base being somewhere where you're developing aerobic efficiency and you’re fat burning, I hear that all the time, people talking about their fat burning. You have so much –
Andrew: People are obsessed with fat burning.
Jeff: Yeah, so they're trying to do that and they're trying to do that and they're chugging Gatorade, and these other things that just kill, go to the pancreas and release insulin and it kills your fat burning so you’re burning carbs. So, that's more easily and effectively done through your nutrition, not your training. So, that's where you want to be a better fat burner. That's why you're using UCAN to do that. But then just the practicality, you have these pros and people see, here's what the pros are doing. They're doing this high volume and such, but you know, their training, if you think about it, they have a whole bunch of time to train, and they're training for races that are much, much shorter than age groupers. And so when you have their volume that they can do 20 plus hours, and they're cutting down to a race that's under 10, well think about an athlete that’s training for a 16-hour race, 15-hour race, what kind of high volume would they need to be –
Andrew: It’s the same distance but if the pros are covering it in eight and I'm covering it in 12, that’s a totally different race.
Jeff: So, there's a very impractical nature to well, what kind of volume, and that’s not sustainable. And so taking that approach, most of the injuries happen from overuse and doing too much. And so the older you get, it becomes more and more impractical to do that, more and more risky, dangerous for your injuries. But also the thing that you're working that power standpoint like John was mentioning threshold power, it's harder and harder to maintain the older that you get. So, that's something once you start losing it, muscle mass and your ability to produce power. And so going a whole season where you're going to only low intensity, you're never going to get back to where you were. It’s much, much easier to maintain that year round. You don't have to do a whole lot of it to maintain that, and then ramp up as the distance requires. There's a period of time if you think about it as well, looking at that, that high volume. If you're doing high volume in the offseason, and then you get close to your race, you also have to do high volume there because you're training for these long events. There's not a period of time when you can minimize volume and work on high power production. So, that, we treat that offseason, that preseason period as very, very precious. There's no long sessions required. There's no high volume required. So, there's not this race requirement that you have a volume or a long session. So, during that time you can do whatever is best for you to develop your fitness, your health, your stability, all of that. So, you just get fit you do whatever training is going to make you a better track athlete during that time that you can't do it any other time during the season.
Andrew: Well, there you have it, folks. It has been debunked as a myth. It is a myth that high volume a long way out from race day and then higher intensity closer to race day is the best way to train. It's actually quite the opposite just like John said, we want to go fast before far and strong before long. That's it for today folks. I want to thank TriDot CEO, Jeff Booher, and coach John Mayfield for talking with us. A big thanks to our friends at Generation UCAN for bringing us today’s show. A big thanks to our friends at Generation UCAN for bringing us today's show. There is a reason so many of us at TriDot use UCAN, and it's because it's the best stuff for sustained energy in training and on race day. I encourage everyone to give UCAN’s nutrition products to try. Head to GenerationUCAN.com and use coupon code TRIDOT for 15% off your order for all my users out there. I hope you gained a little insight into why your workouts are scheduled just the way they are. If you've never used TriDot and you want to give data optimize training a try, head over TriDot.com and start your free test drive today. Enjoying the podcast? Have any triathlon questions or topics you want to hear us talk about? Email us at Podcast@TriDot.com and let us know what you're thinking. Again, that's Podcast@TriDot.com. We'll do it again soon. Until then, happy training.
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