Mikael Eriksson podcast episode

Building Durability, Rethinking Training Phases, And More With Mikael Eriksson

Topics Covered In This Episode:

  • Thinking outside the box when it comes to training phases
  • Load vs. stress vs. strain
  • How to build fatigue resistance
  • Why consistency is so important
  • The limitations of training stress score
  • Athlete gap analysis
  • Using strength training to build durability

Guest Bio:

Mikael Eriksson is the Founder and Head Coach of Scientific Triathlon, which he started as a blog in 2015, and now provides one-on-one coaching. He is also the host of “That Triathlon Show”.

Guest Links:

Listen to the episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform


Episode Transcription:

Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.

Adam Pulford (00:00:07):

Michael Erickson. Welcome to the train right podcast.

Mikael Eriksson (00:00:10):

Thanks Adam. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Adam Pulford (00:00:13):

Yeah. Well, can you tell our listeners who may have not heard about your podcast and don’t know about you? Can you tell our listeners more about yourself?

Mikael Eriksson (00:00:22):

Yeah. So, uh, I’m a triathlon coach. I’m from Finland, uh, Swedish speaking, fin, actually, but I’m based in Portugal, uh, for what is it for, for almost five years now? Uh, yeah, soon to be five years. And, uh, my podcast is that triathlon show, uh, the coaching business is called scientific Revlon. So, so the podcast home is on scientific trilon.com. And I’ve been doing that since 2017, I believe is when, when I cut out the first episodes. And, uh, for the most part, I’ve been doing two episodes per week, every single week until actually in, uh, July of 2021 is when I went, uh, back down or not back down. But I went down to one weekly episode just from a time management for time management reasons. But yeah, over that time I’ve done, uh, a good 300 and something I use and a bunch of solo episodes as well.

Mikael Eriksson (00:01:14):

So there’s plenty of, of content there. And, uh, yeah, the podcast is, uh, something that I love doing, especially the tou styles when, when I get to speak to really great coaches, researchers, and, and that’s the focus, I’m not interviewing athletes, but coaches and researchers kind of like, like you do. And, uh, while you are, uh, uh, past guest on the show and we had a great, great chat then. So, uh, so yeah, the podcast is, is a fantastic tool for me to always coached myself by just getting, getting direct access to, to insights from, from others that, that are really good at what they do. And, uh, that helps me in my day to day job as a, as a coach.

Adam Pulford (00:01:55):

Yeah. And it’s, it is a really good podcast. Um, I suggest anybody who’s into this podcast and listening right now, definitely go check it out. Um, and I’m also like blown away at the rate that you record these podcasts you like pumping up to a week. Um, I feel like with all the other coaching duties and stuff, it’s, I’m like, how do you do that, Michael? Um, so mad respect for that in the past. Um, I also like surprised to hear that cuz when we recorded that was like probably 2018 or 2017. I mean it was a while ago. It, it

Mikael Eriksson (00:02:27):

Must have been at least 2018, if not 2019. It wasn’t, it wasn’t, it was definitely not 2017, not in the first year. Okay,

Adam Pulford (00:02:35):

Good. Yeah. Cuz I was like how long ago did we do that? But it was, that was a, that was a fun episode. No idea which one it was, but uh, uh, that’s originally how, um, I got connected with, uh, with you Michael and uh, uh, coach coop, Jason coop put us, uh, put us in touch. So it’s, uh, we’ve stayed in touch ever since. And um, I’ve been meaning to have Michael on this podcast for quite some time and the, the time is the time is nine, so yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, okay. So for, for our listeners today, um, we’ve got a lot queued up and we’re gonna try to kind of condense it all down into an hour hour plus. Um, but in, in previous episodes with that triathlon show, you’ve talked about this concept of durability and that’s where I wanna start. So if you want to, let’s get into that and then we’ll keep on building and then go into this general or base prep and then move beyond you go with that.

Mikael Eriksson (00:03:33):

Yeah, no, that’s, that’s great. So durability, uh, you, you have had Steven Siler onto to about that. I also talked with ed bonder and Steven Siler on, on that topic. And just to define that, first of all, uh, in simple terms, I, I would say that durability can be defined as, uh, resistance to performance impairment when you are doing extended, prolonged and during exercise and about when and how much you start to physically deteriorate when, when you are doing work or that extended, uh, period of time. So somebody who you might have two athletes with the same view to max, same threshold, but one of them starts to fatigue much sooner than, than the other, or much more, more than the other when, when the crucial point in a race comes. And, and then the more durable athlete will be, will be the one who wins and as a triathlon coach and my primary focus as a coach is athletes that are working towards half and full Ironman.

Mikael Eriksson (00:04:37):

Race is durability is a very, a key attribute to be able to, to do, to raise those, especially at a high level, because if you raise a 7 1 3, for example, half Ironman at a high level, you’re basically very close to your threshold the entire day for three and a half hours, four hours, four and a half hours, uh, depending on where at the spectrum you are, of course, if you are more working towards completing rather than competing than the intensity is lower, but, but you still need some level of durability to be able to still be running after maybe six or seven hours of work that day. So, so durability is, is a critical component of pre and training, but that’s the case as well with, as you know, a lot of cycling disciplines and cycling races. Yeah.

Adam Pulford (00:05:22):

For, for sure, for sure. Um, to kind of dive a little bit more into that definition too, I’m gonna pick it apart just a bit. And when you talk about this physical, um, deterioration of performance, what are some things that are going on to kind of rip that athlete down or, or cause them to slow down like what’s going on?

Mikael Eriksson (00:05:47):

Yeah, I think the, well, some of the main mechanisms, uh, when we’re talking about prolonged endurance exercise, then we can assume that if, if we’re talking about something that lasts longer than, you know, 20 minutes or so then the, the reason that you are, uh, that you’re fatiguing is not that you are going through acidosis or things like that. You’re not in the severe intensity domain. You are somewhere between the first and second threshold perhaps. And, and in some cases in an iron menu might even be below the, uh, the first lactate threshold LT one. So, so the reasons are not acidosis or, or metabolite buildup or, or anything like that going on in the cells. It’s more about glycogen. Depletion is a, is a big one, uh, obviously, so you want to try to be able to spare glycogen and re replace as much glycogen as you can while you are exercising or competing.

Mikael Eriksson (00:06:42):

Um, another important one I think is, uh, is, uh, thermal stress. So heat buildup and being, uh, being exposed to that for an extended period of time. And, uh, then there’s also a lot of potential, potentially a lot of central fatigue going on actually in, in those really long races, like an Ironman or some sort of ultra ultra endurance race. Uh, so, so those are, are a few of the main ones we mark Burnley on his YouTube channel, all of physiology, I think summarizes these fatigue mechanisms really well. He also, he was a guest on my podcast. So, uh, we talk out that briefly and it’s worth checking out, but, but I would say that glycogen depletion, uh, thermal stress and, uh, and central fatigue in, in the central nervous system, those are, uh, a few of the main, uh, the main things going on there

Adam Pulford (00:07:33):

And pertaining to cause there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of different ways of, we can take, uh, this concept of durability or even like this, this episode, we’re gonna focus primarily on training. And so from that training standpoint, we’re really talking about, let’s say delay fatigue, or becoming resistant to fatigue over time. There’s, there’s three main concepts that pertain to that in the, the lens of training, if you will, and that’s stress, strain and load. Can you talk about, or like, say, give us a general definition of stress strain, load, and high level, how that pertains to, uh, training for endurance athletes.

Mikael Eriksson (00:08:20):

Yeah, sure. So if you start with load, because that’s the simple one that everybody, everybody knows it’s, if you’re on the bike, how much power are you putting out, or if you’re running, what’s your, the pace you’re running or in the pool, what’s, what’s the pace that you’re swimming. It’s basically the mechanical mechanical load. Your body needs to out output a certain amount or of, of work. So it’s, it’s basically the training output. And, uh, then stress on the other hand is, uh, I would, at least this is, this is how I would define these concepts. Stress is the metabolic. And, uh, also to some extent, biomechanical cost of maintaining that output or that load. So that means for example, that you and I might be cycling at the same power or same power to weight, but our oxygen consumption or oxygen uptake might be slightly different because one of us is more or less economical or efficient than, than the other.

Mikael Eriksson (00:09:16):

And in running the differences in, in economy are quite a bit bigger than in cycling. So there, those sorts of things start to really matter. But, uh, yeah, you can also look at biomechanical costs. So for example, some in running, when the muscular stress is a lot bigger than cycling, you, some one runner might have a lot more, you know, muscle damage that they experience, even on a certain course, let’s say a, a hilly course with a lot of up and downhill running than another. So, um, so the biomechanical stress on one runner might be different than on, on a second one. And, and then finally strain, uh, is basically your response to the stress, to the TOIC and the biomechanical cost of that output. So, so that means things like, okay, you need this amount of oxygen. So how, how much does your heart need to work?

Mikael Eriksson (00:10:08):

Because that might be different on a day to day, uh, basis. How, what is your heart rate on one day is not necessarily the same as it is the following day, because it can depend on a lot of things like hydration, uh, central, central fatigue and, and a bunch of other, other things. So, so that’s one aspect of strain on one day, your heart might have to work harder to just to get the same amount of oxygen out to the muscles and, uh, equally how much do you need, how much, uh, how much do you need to activate that, those anaerobic pathways to, uh, to sustain a certain pace or power? So, so those, I would call aspects of strain. So yeah, basically you have it as a, if you think of it as a pyramid, you have the output at the top, which is the, the load. And then you have the stress underneath, which is, is more of a, okay, what is going on underneath the hood. And then the strain is how is your body basically dealing, dealing with that stress, if, if that makes sense.

Adam Pulford (00:11:07):

Yeah. Well, yes, it does make sense. And I hope it makes sense to our listeners too, if anybody’s, you know, confused or like, whoa, there’s a lot going on, you you’re right. Like there is, is a lot going on, you know, when it comes to training and how your body is perceiving the training, both in the short term and in the long term. Okay. Because a lot of these load character characteristics, the stress characteristics, and the strain have both acute and chronic or short and long term components to it. Right. And when we’re talking about training, we’re talking about the, the stress impulse response in both of those, uh, I’d say timing contexts, right? Michael.

Mikael Eriksson (00:11:49):

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s, that’s something that maybe can be a bit confusing because of how, for example, training peaks are using the terminology differently. That stress is actually what, what they call stress is what I call load stress is simply okay. Based on the power or the pace that you did for a certain duration and load is more of the chronic aspects. But, but I think you can look at it more from this perspective of load is load, but you can have the load that you do in one workout or the instantaneous load. And you can also look at it chronically, so you don’t have to kind of, uh, yeah, you, you can, you can use that at both the chronic in the chronic perspective, timewise or in the acute setting as well. And, and one thing to add, I, I, in terms of strain, because I, I feel like maybe I didn’t explain strain very well.

Mikael Eriksson (00:12:37):

Sure. I think that R RPE, uh, your radio perceived exertion in a workout or after workout is a pretty good marker of strain. So you might do the exact same workout week one and week two and week three in a training plan, but in feel different those different times. And, and that is quite a good marker of, uh, marker of strain. How, how much did you, because RPE is made up in our brain and the brain is the master regulator of the body. So, so it takes all of these inputs, gly, Oly, and the heart rate, uh, and, and, and, and all of these things, thermal, what have you, and, and basically makes a, a composite score and that is RPE. So, so RPE is really good when you, if you want to judge the strain or a particular workout.

Adam Pulford (00:13:25):

Oh, for sure. And that’s, and that’s a, that’s a good point to bring up Michael, because it’s, uh, something that I’m always asking my athletes on a very regular basis, whether they, you know, recorded on training peaks, which I highly encourage. So for any of my athletes out there who are not currently recording RPE for a single session workouts, pleases do that. Um, but also learning how to perceive that rate of that RPE right rate of perceived exertion scale of one to 10, 10 being on maximum effort, one being on just hanging out, sitting on the couch, uh, where, you know, how hard was that effort, um, and could be the effort on the day of the interval itself, or hill climb, whatever that’s, what we’re talking about in terms of RPE. And to that point, Michael, you know, the other confusing bit too, is like, uh, and you mentioned it before about like either heat, dissipation, or environmental factor contributing to some of this strain.

Adam Pulford (00:14:18):

Um, you can go do, let’s just say a hard hill climb day. I don’t know, 4,000 foot of hill climb in a couple hours. Right. Kind of a stressful day for, for most folk. And you can do that in 70 degree weather, or you can do that in a hundred degree weather, or you can do that in 10 degree weather, all in, uh, uh, degrees Fahrenheit for, for those listeners who are wondering which, which, uh, which method we’re using, but you can see where I’m going with this is, is both, you know, in the 70 degree temperature, you’re gonna, it’s probably gonna be fine, cuz that’s normative. If you go hot or cold, there’s gonna be different strains to the system. You could call it stresses because technically it’s kind of a biomechanical cost, but it’s gonna increase that rate of perceived effort or, um, cause these, your body to work harder for that given session of which you’re probably not gonna see it necessarily on power file or pace file or in the heart rate or anything like that. But it’s there it’s real. And the athlete has to tell you that.

Mikael Eriksson (00:15:24):

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And on the metabolic side, like if you compare to 70, under 100 degree, you still have, have to, your oxygen consumption is not going to be too much different in those two weather conditions for the same power output. So, but the difference is that in the hotter conditions, you are just so busy chanting heat, uh, to, uh, to the skin and, and trying to, to get rid of it that way, that, that you have less to go to the muscle. So your heart just has to work that much harder to, to pump out more blood than it would in those normal conditions. So that’s a perfect example of even though the metabolic stress is the same, the strain is completely different.

Adam Pulford (00:16:06):

Exactly. And the reason why I bring this up and people are like, well, where are you going with this? Adam? The reason this up is as much as I have been, I don’t know, um, talking in training peak training peaks language or CTS methodology, or, you know, uh, waving my WK oh five, uh, fanboy flag or something like that. It’s, um, all those tools are really important because these tools help us identify, uh, communicate and investigate what’s going on within an athlete, but they’re not perfect. They’re absolutely not perfect. And the tools are getting better. It seems like, you know, every year where we can, uh, you know, have this lens to view what is going on, you know, inside and outside of an athlete’s body, to who, um, know how stressed they are from the loads we impose and the strains that that are going on. But you know, like nothing’s perfect in, in as much as we’re even using this language to describe it’s, it’s also imperfect. Um, so again, kind of getting to the point that I said in, in this is the, in this intro is to talk with Michael and start to learn how we can look at some of these things that we may take as ordinary or something that we think we know. And you, you may not know as much.

Mikael Eriksson (00:17:26):

Yeah, yeah, no, that’s, that’s absolutely right. And, and I think, uh, if, if you wanna tie those, those concepts of stress, train and load to durability, just to close the loop on that one a little bit. Sure. Uh, the, the, the thing with dur abilities that let’s say you’re out on a five hour bike ride, then you are, and you are trying to keep a constant power. You’re, you’re going at a constant 200 Watts or whatever it may be. And, uh, your load is the exact same throughout that ride. Your stress is probably also very similar. It might change a little bit in terms of how you, how your, your output is fueled. And, uh, the composition may be of aerobic and anaerobic might change a bit, but, but it’s probably for, or that sort of steady effort, aerobic effort, it’s, it’s probably quite constant throughout most of the ride. What changes a lot. There is the strain. And, but then durability is okay, how much can we prevent that strain from increasing too much and too early? So yeah, that’s just to tie them all together a little bit and, and understand, okay. So how, how do these things relate to durability that we started talking about?

Adam Pulford (00:18:34):

Yeah, 100% and we’ll get into like how we become more durable here pretty quick. But I, I think that, um, and we might even have to edit this analogy out, cause it might break down very quickly, Michael, but I’m gonna give it a shot when, uh, I believe when you were talking to SI and I, and I also interviewed him, there was analogy of a board, right? Call it a bridge or whatever, but like a board with, you know, a couple cinder blocks on either side and this board can be, um, it it’ll hold a load, right? It’ll hold a weight of something that’s resting in the middle of it. In that let’s just call it a bucket. You can pour water into that bucket and it’s going to stress, right. It’s gonna stress that board. Um, and it’s be gonna become warped. Okay. And, and you realize over time that you can only hold a certain amount of water before you need to take that board out and put in a sturdier one or something like that.

Adam Pulford (00:19:31):

It’s not a perfect analogy, but you can then poke a few holes in the bucket and it’ll have this flux of the water coming out and you say, okay, well that holds up a little bit better. And you keep on putting this water in and you try to decide which board is gonna hold, what load more appropriately. And through that process, you can, you can then these, like these analogies are kind of that, that vision of like what kind of board is appropriate for how much say stress or, or load. And this is where the analogy is starting to break down. But, um, the whole concept there of what, uh, Dr. Siler was talking about from saying in engine near standpoint is how much of a tolerance like this athlete can, can have over time in order to achieve like their Ironman goals or their, uh, Cape epic goals or whatever these, these things are. And so I I’ll throw it out there as an analogy and example, if, if, uh, if that is helpful for listeners or for the context of this conversation, and if we delete it out, we delete it out. Let’s start to think about that sort of metaphor.

Mikael Eriksson (00:20:42):

Yeah, no, I, I think, uh, I’ve seen a, a video actually on Dr. SI’s YouTube channel where he, he talks about that. And, and I, he explains it quite, quite well there, I think as the deformation quite better than I did

Mikael Eriksson (00:20:59):

Well, it was his example. So he’d better, uh, have it right. You, you just, you, you, you just try to, to convey weight from him. So that’s fine. Uh, and I, I, I got it, what you were talking about. Um, but the, yeah, the deformation in the board is, is kind of what he talks about as the analogy to the strain. So the stress is the same as long as you have the same amount of water in the bucket. Uh, but, uh, but the deformation, so one board might, Defor more than, than another board. And, uh, and that’s kind of the, the strain. And I guess what you’re getting at is kind of when, for example, planning the training of an athlete, so how, how much stress and strain do you want them to experience so that they can then adapt positively to it and become stronger, become more durable with time.

Adam Pulford (00:21:48):

Exactly. Exactly. So let’s take that analogy and learn how you can become more durable, um, over time to get more success from your, your training. We’re gonna kind of pivot here a little bit and then swing back to durability. But I wanna talk about the base phase of training and Michael, and we were putting this together. I know we were kind of kind of going back and forth cause it’s like, well, that’s not really what I call it, Adam. It’s not really what I do. And I’m like, yeah, kind of same thing. So when, when gen, when people are talking about their, their base period, what, what are you talking about, Michael or what’s, what’s another way that we can think about this.

Mikael Eriksson (00:22:29):

Uh, I, I listened to your recent injury with Colin Moore and, uh, and I really, I think he, he defined it really well. Anything that makes the athlete better in the long term? I, I would agree with that. So, so I don’t, yeah, I, I, I don’t necessarily think in terms of base build, uh, and peak paper, or like any sort of, you know, trying to block the year off in, in those ways, but most of what you do can be thought of as based training, really. Like if you think about it, when you’re training for an Ironman, especially in the specific buildup to the race, you are probably out there doing lots of hours at a fairly low intensity, kind of maybe at your, your first let’s say threshold or slightly below it. And that’s what traditionally has been called base training long, long, slow miles.

Mikael Eriksson (00:23:23):

It, it’s not necessarily super slow, but, but it’s also not it’s, it’s in the, in the moderate intensity domain. So I think that, yeah, for me, bass is what, what I think about when I hear bass is really anything that makes the athlete better in the long term. So, so if we’re preparing them for the Olympic games, uh, short course triathlon, and we’re doing a bunch of sprint work in the last two weeks to make sure that if it comes down to a sprint for the finish line, they will get that gold rather than the silver that’s maybe not contributing to their, you know, being better in the long term. That’s something that definitely can make a big, big difference in the short term, but not necessary in the long term. But most of the, the rest of the training that an athlete does in the year can almost be thought as best based training. So, yeah, that’s, that’s how I think about it in, in broad, uh, in broad strokes.

Adam Pulford (00:24:16):

Yeah. And I think that’s, it’s super important and I brought this up in the, the intro aspect of it, but I, I think that so often athletes, as well as coaches I’ll raise my hand in that, um, have, or currently think that everything needs to be like segmented, um, in order to be organized in a very appropriate way. It’s like, no, every everything builds off itself, you know, one, um, you know, one season to the next, sometimes you might even have a, you know, a gap season where there’s not much going on, but that also kind of builds. And there’s, so it’s more infinite. It’s not finite in terms of how an athlete is being built over time. And that’s, that’s really what I want our listeners to start to think about as opposed to it’s January it’s base phase. Here we go. It’s really not how it works.

Mikael Eriksson (00:25:07):

Yeah. I think we love as cyclist and athletes, uh, especially, I, I think runners are maybe a bit different, but different, but cyclist and athletes are love formulas and equations and totally, um, recipes, if you will, for training success. And, and I think the appeal of thinking, thinking about very specific, you know, blocked off periods that are base and build, and what have you is that is the appeal or the thought of that. If you structure your training in a certain way, you will get a better, better training outcome. But, but I think that kind of, it boxes us in and we think inside the box rather than outside of it. And, uh, as you said at the beginning, and, and yeah, at least this is, I think how training has been popularized in the last couple of decades, I, I would say, or training training structure.

Mikael Eriksson (00:26:03):

And, and I think that it, to some extent, I mean, it, it does help of course, for, or self coach athletes in particular, to, to have a bit of a guideline for how to structure their training, because it’s clear that structure is better than unstructured. So in that sense, I think that the whole base build, uh, base and build and, uh, and peaking or tapering that kind of Joe field popularized does a lot of good for a lot of people in that it gets them to structure their training. But I also think that you shouldn’t become a slave to it, and it’s not necessarily the best way to train. Uh, I think that it works really well for some time, but then you have to, I guess, broaden your perspectives and broaden your horizons a bit. And, uh, and yeah, just think about things not in so formulate terms

Adam Pulford (00:26:53):

Yeah. A hundred percent. So, you know, start somewhere, get organized, but then evolve beyond. And that’s where we’re talking about in that all beyond is dialing in for that individual athlete, whether it is you and your coach, or you coaching yourself. And that’s what we’ll talk about today. So, um, when it comes to this general training standpoint, and if we go back to stress, strain and load, as it pertains to volume and intensity, um, I kind of, I wanna walk through like how you’re using volume intensity while keeping an eye on stress, strain and load when you are working with your athletes. And I’d say, because you work with primarily triathletes will probably focus more on like iron man and half iron man, um, in examples. So just in terms of volume and intensity first, can, can I hear a little bit of what Michael is looking at or prescribing when it comes to, uh, preparing an Ironman athlete for their race?

Mikael Eriksson (00:28:03):

Yeah. So first of all, no matter what the athlete is preparing for, it’s really important to think about the full context. So it’s not just the, the goal distance, uh, but also the goal in terms of the achievement or performance the athlete wants to get out of that. So is it to win a professional race or is it to finish first Ironman, uh, within the, the time limit, uh, what is their competitive level? What is their training age, their chronological age, their muscle fiber typology, and injury history, and strengths and weaknesses. And those things will all then play a role as, as well as, okay, how much time do you have until, until the race. So, so there are just bunch of factors, a bunch that I didn’t list off as well that you need to look at. So, so every case is unique, but some generalizations that I can make for, for Ironman is that the highest volume tends to come closest to the race because Ironman is really such an endurance driven event.

Mikael Eriksson (00:29:06):

Even a fast age, grouper might try to go for a nine hour time and, and somebody looking to com complete might go for a 16 hour time or a 17 hour time. So, so it’s really endurance driven. So, so we need to do a fairly high volume of endurance, and it makes sense to do that close to the race so that you can have all of those adaptations with you as you go into, into the event. And also the durability, because you build that when with a high volume of training in general, not just long individual workouts. Uh, so since we know, yeah, sorry,

Adam Pulford (00:29:41):

Like one quick distinguishable thing. If, if we’re looking at Ironman, Arizona, which is October, right. Um, we’re not having our highest for that particular athlete and say, they’re only gonna raise that. For example, you’re not gonna have the highest volume be in April to really get ’em built up. No,

Mikael Eriksson (00:30:02):

No. Okay. No, it’s go. It’s going to be in September and August, August, September, October, uh, tapering off, obviously be before the race. So, and that’s very,

Adam Pulford (00:30:12):

The, the reason I bring that up is it’s, it’s counter cultural to this like base prep built more or less. Right. And there’s some specificity that I’ll go on there, but I just, I wanted to point that out, uh, to our listeners, uh, real

Mikael Eriksson (00:30:24):

Quick. Yeah. Yeah. And, and since we, in many cases, we know that this will be the case. We will do our highest volume, uh, closer to the race or closest to the race. Then we can use those earlier parts of the season to just work on, work on other things. So build up your V2, max, your, your muscular resilience. And, and we need to, first of all, get the athlete ready to handle what they need to do closer to the race. So if we know that to even be able to, you know, finish the race, perhaps this athlete will need to do, let’s say 10 to 14 hours per week for six weeks, uh, in the specific preparation for the race before the taper, then we need to build up the volume so that they, they ready to handle that and, uh, and build up the, uh, the musculoskeletal system as well.

Mikael Eriksson (00:31:18):

So, so it’s able to, to handle that. So, so, so that plays into how we structured of training. And, uh, we also know that we won’t be doing, or we won’t be, I’m not saying that we won’t be doing, but we won’t be putting a massive emphasis of, we won’t be prioritizing high intensity work in that specific period leading into the race. So if we, if we think that this athlete can benefit from high intensity work, then we should do that earlier. And in some cases, maybe Ironman is so nice, doesn’t work as well in this example, but let’s say the athlete is doing a June Ironman and their volume period for that Ironman is going to be in may and April, then January, February, March is when they have an opportunity to work on some higher intensities, really when they’re still not at that, uh, super peak volume and specific Ironman training. So, so that’s, so that’s another aspect of it when, when the intensity falls, uh, will for Ironman athlete often be, be earlier. So, uh, yeah, that’s, uh, that, that’s how I would generalize it anyway. Uh, so, so yeah, those are a couple of, of aspects of intensity and, and volume when it comes to, to the Ironman.

Adam Pulford (00:32:30):

Perfect. Um, when you’re working with a a half Ironman athlete, would that, would, would anything change in terms of, uh, big picture sort of structure from, um, preparation to this like race specific time period?

Mikael Eriksson (00:32:48):

Yes, but, and the high fireman I feel is even more context dependent because the high fireman can be raced in such a wide variety of ways. So you have the, I at the, at the fastest end on the spectrum, you have pro male athletes raising it in close to three and a half hours, and they’re at 90 to 95% of threshold the entire way. And it’s just a very intense event. It’s, uh, but obviously it’s still an endurance event, uh, but, but you need a lot of quite specific, big, hard work to, to be able to do that. Also some of the fastest age group athletes, uh, can raise it in a intense way, uh, a little bit further from threshold, but close to threshold for most of the time, if you’re racing at four hours, even four and a half hours, then, then you are definitely outputting some, some quite solid percentage of threshold numbers there.

Mikael Eriksson (00:33:42):

But then on the other hand, if you are somebody working to, uh, to complete a half Ironman and you will do that in six to seven hours, then it’s, it’s closer to what an Ironman is for a professional athlete, which they now do in seven and a half hours. So, so it’s, it’s all about the endurance. And, and in that case for that athlete, we’re looking at something similar to the Ironman conversation we just had. But on the other hand for the very competitive athlete racing at four hours, three and a half hours, four and a half hours, then, uh, the pre might look very different. And, and really it comes down to what is doing a gap analysis and figuring out what is it that the athlete is lacking in what bridge, what do they need to bridge? What gaps do they need to bridge in order to be as competitive as they want to knowing what their goals are and what the event demands are.

Mikael Eriksson (00:34:34):

I still think that having quite specific training in the final period before the race, but that my might not necessarily be a long period. It might be three, four weeks of very specific training. And then some tapering, it might be longer in some cases, but it doesn’t have to be excessively long, uh, that is general the case for most athletes. So then it comes back to okay, until we get to that period three to four weeks, or let’s say with taper five to six weeks before the race, what do we need to work on? What, what is it that the athlete needs to work on? Is it, are they limited by their, a particular discipline? Like the swim? Do we need to focus on the swim? Or if you’re thinking more about the metabolic side, are they limited by their V2 max or more by their ability to hold a higher percentage of V2 max and, and those aspects will then, or are they limited by durability and, and endurance? So there are all sorts of scenarios there and, and really what, what you do can vary so much from athlete to athlete, but, but you have to just sit down and think about what does this athlete have and what do they need, where are the biggest potentials for improvement and work on those first, and then gradually take off as many as you can, until you get into that period where you still want to put in some specific training for the event.

Adam Pulford (00:35:55):

Yeah, yeah, no, for sure. In, in your, are you’re checking off all the right things, in my opinion for, especially that, um, the individualized approach to, uh, to training, which is really hard to talk about on a podcast. I think the way that you and I operate in, in our coaching, um, spheres, if you will, when working with athletes. So, I mean, you’re doing an awesome job of answering, uh, you know, questions, even though you don’t have like all these, like examples that you would in a, uh, you know, like a clinical case, if, if you were working with an athlete. Right. But I think one thing you said really resonated with me, I, I think this might have even been like in our discussion beforehand, but the hinge point of are you going to compete or plete these events? And I think with the half Ironman, for example, when you talked about, yeah, well, you can bang this thing out in three and a half hour, or like athletes can three and a half or seven. Cause it’s a very, um, it’s a very interesting duration of event. Um, when you have, uh, professionals and age groupers and the energy Tims required to do that on a date, right? Yeah,

Mikael Eriksson (00:37:03):

Yeah, yeah. It’s it, it’s, it’s a crazy feat, I think for the way the pros are raising it now with, uh, three and a half hours. And so, but, um, yeah, uh, take nothing away from the, the people that are out there for seven hours, because that’s an impressive feat in itself to do an and do an exercise for seven hours. But yeah, it’s just, you have to, yeah. Not coach the event, you have to coach the athlete. That’s, that’s the key

Adam Pulford (00:37:29):

Thing. Well, a hundred percent and that’s why I bring it up. I mean, mad respect to both ends for sure. I’d even say Tim, my hat, even more for those who, you know, are out there for seven, cuz that’s, I mean, that’s, that, that is hard. That’s a death March. Um, but I think just from the interesting observational side of things of how that, that hinge point of the energy system is required and then knowing yeah, exactly. What kind of plan are you following in order to get you to your goal? Right. Cause if you, all you’re doing is following this, um, you know, this pro Triathlete’s method of how they were successful at this. And then you try to do all of that, which is generally probably gonna be way too much intensity it’s it’s not gonna serve you very well, right?

Mikael Eriksson (00:38:14):

Yeah, no, no, 100%. Uh it’s you, you can’t, you can take, you can take a plan from some body if you know why you’re doing it, you know that, okay, my limitations are the same or you, you look at the plan and see, okay, this plan clearly targets a certain limitation or a certain aspect that I also need to improve. So, so I’m just gonna take this plan and that’s fine. The, the problem is obviously that, I mean, even not every professional athlete trains in a great way. Uh it’s so they, they might almost have success in spite of how they’re training rather than because of how they’re training in, in some ways. So, and, and in triathlon, I think, I think in cycling, it’s very different because in cycling the professionals, especially on the men’s side, obviously, unfortunately not so much or as much on the female side, but they are well supported.

Mikael Eriksson (00:39:05):

Decently paid. They have good teams around them and good coaches around them triathlon the financial side of things in professional triathlon is so, so bad still, even though it is improving that yeah. A lot of pros can’t afford a coach or, uh, or not a good coach. And yeah, you just end up, if you follow what the professionals are doing, it’s, it’s hit and miss whether it’s good or not, but even if it’s a good plan for that athlete, obviously it needs to fit what you are doing. So as you say, so, so you need to be aware of why you’re doing what you’re doing. That’s, that’s very critical.

Adam Pulford (00:39:39):

Yeah. Yeah. Excellent point. Um, so when we’re talking, let, let’s say, let’s add a little bit more context to these, uh, Ironman, half Ironman athletes, the context of time crunched, which most of us are let’s face it. Um, how do you then influence stress strain load to achieve like this, uh, even progressive overload, if you will, during a general training period.

Mikael Eriksson (00:40:08):

Yeah. Um, first of all, when it comes to progressive overload, I think one thing that I do as a co is I really don’t stress about progressive overload from a week to week, month to month perspective, as much as, uh, taking a bigger picture and looking at it almost as a year to year progression. Uh, I think it’s, and it’s Def definitely something that I’ve made mistakes with in the past with trying to pro progress things week to week or month to month. And you can do that if you’re working far from your capacity, but if you’re working close to your capacity, then it’s, um, yeah, it’s, it’s a way that you can potentially burn out and, and do too much and get injured. So, so I look at progressive overload as, uh, and it’s something that I see in a lot of self coach athletes that they almost sharply obsess with progressive overload and, uh, to their detriment and, and things go, uh, awry.

Mikael Eriksson (00:41:03):

So, so I, I would encourage athletes to look at progressive overload as a very wide perspective, like look at a year. So if you train 500 hours last year, can you train 550 this year? That’s your progressive overload right there. Uh, and, uh, you will keep improving if you’re consistent. And there is some as some element of pro uh, progressive overload, of course, in your, uh, specific workouts, for example, and building up your workouts from when you get back into training after a season break to, you’re not going to do as hard, uh, quality intervals as you are doing right before your key race. So there’s obviously an element of overload there, but, uh, yeah, I, I would just stray away from looking too much at what we do do last week and we have to do more next week. Quite often, we just repeat eat the week.

Mikael Eriksson (00:41:53):

And your progressive overload is that this three week period, you, you managed to do the same thing as you did, uh, a previous three week block, but you did it with slightly more energy, slightly more quality in your, in your hard workouts and without feeling quite as tired at the end, that’s, uh, that’s a success us. So, so that, that’s one thing, uh, to, to address first then secondly, I think that, uh, when we’re talking about time crunched athletes, uh, this is something that I wrote down in my notes is that these athletes are often stress rich athletes in terms of other stressors of their lives, like, uh, work family and other commitments. So you can’t just try to maximize the stress in the training training load that they’re taking on or, or the stress for that matter. Again, coming back to load being the output, stress, being the, uh, the metabolic or biomechanical cost for the output big cuz if you are carrying a lot of other stressors, then your reaction to that load and stress might not be to actually adapt and improve.

Mikael Eriksson (00:43:04):

It might be to, to not improve or to even regress, potentially get injured or get overtrained. So, so there is that danger when, when you’re to, you know, make a program harder that it won’t work the way you planned it. So, so I, I think that it’s, it’s more about trying to be first of all, be really, really consistent and be consistent over as long, a period of time as you can, and, and really try to figure out, okay, where are the points in a year when an athlete really loses that consistency and try to, uh, when you’re working with an athlete, help them see that and help them in whatever way they can reduce those moments when consistency breaks down, be because that’s, that’s where you’re really going to make the biggest difference. Difference. I feel, I think, uh, another car, an issue is that, yeah, it’s the same issue really, but you see a lot of people that want to get more TSS for the same amount of time training stress score in training peaks terminology.

Mikael Eriksson (00:44:04):

And, and that’s definitely not the way that I try to go about things. It’s, uh, it really is. Okay. How many, how many hours do you have look at that as one of your constraints. And then it comes back to, at those aspects we talked about before, look at the context, the goals, the, uh, training age, chronological age, current ability level, and so on, do a gap analysis. See where are the biggest limiters that this athlete needs to overcome to get closer to your goals and start with one at a time. And in many cases for these time crunch athletes, it might be that their endurance is the, and metabolic fitness is their biggest limitation. Which means that the way to overcome that quite often is just try to get in good aerobic work to make room for a long workout every week or every other week, if you can, but yeah, get, get in a good amount of consistent volume as much as you can, but it doesn’t have to be hard volume if that is the case that your, you know, your endurance or your metabolic fitness is your weakness.

Mikael Eriksson (00:45:06):

So that’s where the whole maximizing TSS is a really a red herring. It can, it can be detrimental because you’re just making yourself even more E even more of a, you know, glyco driven athlete and you are going to burn out glycogen very soon in your races, if you’re always going for those harder workouts that make you feel a little bit tired, because you think that you have to compensate for not having as much time. So that’s just one example. It’s not the case for everybody, but look at your gap analysis and take it from there.

Adam Pulford (00:45:35):

Say, whoa, whoa, whoa, more TSS is not better. What I I’m cuing you up there for a very important thing that you said, and in, in even more in important, because again, I think that this is where cycling and triathlete, um, loves their numbers, loves their algorithms and their formulas, man, what she said was awesome. He’s like, you know, don’t maximize the TSS or even like the CTL meaning like, um, uh, you know, if you hit a hundred CTL last year, uh, hitting 120 this year, not necessarily better, not necessarily the goal because there’s, there’s so much context that needs to be in there. And I think per so pertaining to, well, first of all, why would shooting for one 20 this year, if you hit 100, why would that be bad? Just in, in a general standpoint,

Mikael Eriksson (00:46:35):

It could be too much, uh, simply, and, and also keep in mind the training stress Corps, uh, even though its name is stress, it it’s a measure of load of output of training output. It doesn’t tell you anything about how the output was created, what metabolic, uh, what, what the stress was for the output. Uh, it doesn’t give you any context, uh, to it really Al also it’s just based on, it’s a flawed metric, in my opinion. And I, I mean, we could go deep into this, but it’s all based on threshold, which might be fine when you’re working below threshold, but when you’re working above threshold, I think it, it really breaks down. Uh, and it’s, yeah, it becomes really because athletes, as you know, are so individual when we’re talking about the work above threshold in, in what they can do and how they can do it. So, so I think when, when you’re measuring work there, it’s, uh, it’s not going to be an apples to oranges comparison compared to the work you’re doing below threshold.

Adam Pulford (00:47:35):

Yeah. A hundred percent in, in, and I’ll say what I’m about to say with this caveat is I use these tools. I talk about these tools on the podcast. I talk about ’em with my athletes. I think that they are good for what they are. However, they are only as good as how you can or how you, um, manage them in your own, whether it’s coached or self coached now. And I’ll say, so here’s my point a hundred CTL built up anaerobically versus aerobically is a very different CTL, right? You can’t even get there, like the way energy systems work in anaerobic, anaerobic. I mean, we can argue that too, but, but my point here is if you just go and, and ride, you know, zone one or, uh, in, in three zone systems zone one, and then build yourself up to a hundred versus in the three zone system, if you go and ride exclusively in zone three to somehow build up to a hundred CTL, uh, is it just a very different load the way that works out, right?

Mikael Eriksson (00:48:39):

Yeah. And yeah, it’s, and, and, and importantly, a different stress, different strain. So the reaction of the body is going to be very different because the body reacts to the stress and the strain, uh, not necessarily to the load,

Adam Pulford (00:48:52):

It a hundred percent. So kind of to bring this back home is you say, well, okay, Adam and Michael, like this would be a listener listening to this, be like, okay. So I thought you were tracking with like these metrics that I can then use to apply to my own train. Now I’m just confused. Well, I, so now let Michael, um, how do we UN confuse the listeners when it comes down to using some of these metrics to become more durable over time? Should, should we just forego that if, if that is what the listener has been using for the past three years, should we keep on going or how, how do we navigate this, this sticky, critical point we’re in?

Mikael Eriksson (00:49:34):

Yeah. Well, first of all, I’m like you, I do use them as a tool. It’s a good training, stress score is a good measure of, of load of training output, but that’s, that’s, you need to know that that is a, a very big limitation. And, and I think it’s often given much more credence than, than it it should get. Uh, and actually what I wish I could do as a coach is to, for me to be able to see an athlete’s training, stress score and performance management short and everything, but hide it so that the athlete can see themselves because I think it does more harm than good. And, and I still think in terms of a measure of even load, I default more to training volume, like just pure hours, because I, I mean, maybe it’s not that the same, if you start working with a new athlete that you don’t know, but if it’s an athlete that I’ve been working with, I know my general coaching approach, and I know what I’ve been doing with this athlete more or less.

Mikael Eriksson (00:50:26):

So, so I know that what 10 hours means and what 15 hours means and what five hours means and 20 hours means, and, and volume gives a good indication of how much load they’ve been been doing, because it’s not as if within 10 hours, things are going to massively shift. When, when I coach an like from, from one period to the next, other than maybe when they’re just working back into fitness after the season break, uh, it’s, it’s still going to be relatively steady, um, steady enough in terms of the overall load and stress that, that hours and volume really can tell you a lot about what, what the effort is doing. And importantly, also in terms of the data integrity, it’s, it’s a, it’s a metric that is way, way more difficult to mess up because I mean, how many times has this happened to you, Adam, that you have an athlete that something went wrong with their file and it thinks that they bike for 99 hours and they somehow got 10,000 TSS when, or it’s

Adam Pulford (00:51:27):

Good day. My that’s a good day.

Mikael Eriksson (00:51:29):

Yeah. Yeah. And, and then the whole, like, of like I’m attuned to those things and I know them when they happen, but I think a lot of athletes not don’t necessarily do that. And, and a lot of the, you know, the numbers they see are actually based on potential measurement errors that, that are not deleted or taken care of. So, so I think, I think for the listener, I would look at hours first and look at TSS second. But with the hours, basically your job is then take the hours that you have. If you have 10 hours, take those 10 hours, try to optimize your training. As we’ve talked about doing a gap analysis for your event and your goals, uh, do the best you can with those hours, with what you need work on. And then you know that, okay, if I did the best I could with my 10 hours, that’s, that’s all that I can do, then it doesn’t matter what my TSS is.

Mikael Eriksson (00:52:16):

And then let’s say you come back next year and you are suddenly doing 12 hours, but you’re still following the same process of doing the best you can with those 12 hours. Then you can see that, okay, this time, last year I was doing 10 hours. Now I’m doing 12 hours and I’m still following my same, uh, very good, good process based on, on good, fundamental thinking about training then you are. And if things are you’re responding well to the training, you’re doing 12 hours. Now you did 10 hours last year. Then you can assume that, okay, I’m a little stronger now I’m, I’m, I’m doing a little bit more load. So hopefully I can adapt to, to that stronger load than I did before, because the content might not be massively different. So I, I think that’s, that’s a good way to, to look at, to look at these things, look at the hours and, and maximize what you can do with those hours.

Adam Pulford (00:53:04):

Yeah. That’s just it. And I think that coming comes back to several points I’ve mentioned before in the podcast, but if you’re, if you’re only looking at, you know, one thing or two things or whatever, and thinking that’s the holy grail like TSS like CTL, um, I, I think it’s flawed, I’d even say, you know, looking at total volume, um, would be flawed. I, I think it’s probably even better than say a CTL because you have to look at the quality or lack thereof of the volume and, and also, um, how that could, uh, change an athlete’s physiology. So, uh, but what you just said, I mean, that’s a hundred percent agree and I think that that’s, you know, kind of a wonderful way to answer that, that time crunched, um, at athlete, um, conundrum that many of us are in.

Mikael Eriksson (00:53:48):

Yeah. Yeah. And, and just to be clear, when I said maximize the hours you have, again, we thought about this already, but it doesn’t mean maximize the work done or the output done. It means it means coming at it from the process of understanding your body and your physiology and what you need to improve and then doing work to address those main limitations that you have in relation to your goals.

Adam Pulford (00:54:10):

Exactly. So some of those limitations, um, could be a weakness in an athlete versus a, a strength. And when we talk about like strengths and weaknesses, when it pertains to a, uh, uh, general prep for, um, can I, can I ask you how you address strength and weaknesses during this general preparation?

Mikael Eriksson (00:54:33):

Yeah, so, so it, it really is about again doing that gap analysis for the athlete. So every, every year I do a well, uh, basically sit together with the athlete. And while you, uh, fill out a pretty big sort of planning questionnaire, if you will, first before the season. And so we know kind of what race did they want to do? What did they want to achieve? And then we sit down together and, and we talk about it and maybe refine some of the goals and make sure that they’re, they were aligned on, on all of that. And, and then it’s might job really to take those goals and, uh, and look at, okay, where is the athlete now? Where do they need to be? And, and what are, what is it that’s limiting them. So, so, so it’s so a weakness as you allude to, I think doesn’t have to be something that you need to improve.

Mikael Eriksson (00:55:22):

For example, for most of my Tris, they do not, they’re not going to the Olympics. They’re not going into sprint with Alexy and Kristen Blumenfeld. So we don’t need to work on sprinting with them. Uh, that’s, that’s a weakness for a lot of people, but it’s not a limitation in any way. So, so it’s not something that’s going to be probably addressed in our, in our training at all, because we don’t need it. Uh, but a limitation might be that this, this athlete, they, they tend to crumble after 10 kilometers under run in the half Ironman. And, uh, and we need to somehow address that. It’s probably not a running issue because they’re running really well in training. They run good, open half marathons. It’s more of a durability issue when, or it might be a fueling issue. We need to look at those two potential aspects.

Mikael Eriksson (00:56:07):

It might be a either bike pacing issue. Do we need to be more conservative on the bike or do we need to simply improve bike threshold to be able to ride at a lower percentage of threshold at the same speed and the same output, those are all options. So, so you have to consider them kind of rank the probabilities and, uh, and then just start working on them either one at a time, or some of them you can sometimes work on in parallel, but having some sort of way of prioritizing. What are the big limitations for age groupers? For example, swimming is often a big weakness, but the potential gains with an athlete that is somewhat time, crunched are also often quite a lot smaller than the potential games on games on the bike and the run. So even though swimming might be the biggest weakness and limitation in terms of an athlete achieving, you know, or in terms of where they could be compared to their genetic potential, if you want to call it that it’s not necessarily the one that we’ll work on, because it’s not necessarily the one that will give us the most gains when an athlete has a limited amount of time to train.

Mikael Eriksson (00:57:11):

So, so that’s an overview, I guess, of how, how I work at that. But, but the point is, yeah, we’re doing the general preparation phases. We are working on as many of these things that we, we can, and we just try to kind of then every once in a while, like look back at, okay, do we still have the same? Do we need to update the gap analysis? And, and what, what is the next next on the list to improve? That’s basically how the process works.

Adam Pulford (00:57:37):

Yeah, yeah. And so the things that I really like out of that answer, if you will, and as important for our listeners is, um, first of all, the terminology, right? Weakness versus limiter, cause it’s different, right? So you can look at a gen general physiology and have a weakness, but pertaining to the goal, a weakness doesn’t matter, but a limiter may, right. That can then help you determine within whatever training period, how you structured up via your gap analysis. And I think that will help bring some structure into how athletes kind of shape up their year. And then with the strengths too, the strengths are, you know, you can call also call those opportunities, um, of which that may all, you know, that strength always be there. And therefore you don’t have to train it during the general preparation time period. I mean, for, uh, go with a cycling example for a lot of my sprinters, I don’t train their sprint a whole lot.

Adam Pulford (00:58:36):

Like if they’re truly genetic gifted sprinters, I just make sure I don’t mess it up. Right. So kind of in the preparation general, um, build phase I I’m doing and things to make sure I don’t mess it up and I’m really working on durability a lot on, um, uh, uh, basically endurance and glycolytic power production and then freshen ’em up and get ’em ready with some specificity going into a main event. And that just for my quick of a example, as I can, that’s kind of how, you know, an opportunity and a strength would be, um, identified in a gap analysis and then applied during a preparation time period.

Mikael Eriksson (00:59:16):

Yeah, no, that makes, makes perfect sense. And, and I totally agree with that. Like you, you do have, you have to be aware of the opportunities as well, the strengths of the athlete and, and, uh, and yeah. Take, take them into account and, and not, not just ignore them. Yep.

Adam Pulford (00:59:31):

Yep. Okay. So kind of moving on to two strength training all within the, the, the lenss and context of building a better durable athlete over time, do you use strength training for majority of your athletes? And if you could just like assume some, some context around that, um, how do you use strength training in, in this general preparation

Mikael Eriksson (00:59:52):

Phase? Yeah, so, so just to clarify, when you’re talking about building a durable athlete here, because terminology can be a bit, uh, ambiguous, uh, it can mean a resilient, like for example, an, an athlete that is resilient to injury. Uh, but, or are we still talking about your ability in terms of the ability to withstand fatigue and experience minimal deterioration in physical performance capacity?

Adam Pulford (01:00:15):

Let’s go with the performance capacity side of things. Cause I think it’ll help to simplify conversation.

Mikael Eriksson (01:00:22):

Yeah. Well, the way I use strength training is, um, I, I think it’s, it’s not necessarily so much related to that aspect of durability, even though there is research out there showing that for example, strength training has helped cyclists, uh, maintain a better growth, growth efficiency, um, further into their long in, into a long aerobic ride. So that is basically that’s your durability right there. They have less strain or less deterioration. So, so it is parallel even though that’s not the main reason that I do strength training, because that is for me more so about a little bit about, or quite a bit about resilience to injury, but, but also about just general capacity to express force, not just in a fatigue state, but in a, in any state. So just improving mechanically things like, uh, rate of force development and, and so on, which for, for all sports, but for running in particular, I, I think is, is really important, but either way, the way, the way I do it is pretty standard.

Mikael Eriksson (01:01:29):

Uh, there’s a set of exercises that, that are targeting key muscle groups and movements that the athletes do year round. I, don’t not all of my athletes do strength training in the gym, but many of them do. Um, so some of them that don’t do strengthening in the gym, they still do a, at least a couple of circuits per week. It can be 20 minute circuits to target their cord, their hips and glutes and their lower legs, just for, to make sure that they can do all of the endurance training that they’re doing without getting injured. And these can generally be done at home with minimal equipment for the athletes that, uh, that can, uh, do work in the gym. And that I think will benefit from doing work in the gym, which it comes really comes down to a sort of time cost analysis for many athletes that have a reasonable, reasonably big time budget.

Mikael Eriksson (01:02:19):

I definitely have them working in the gym for some athletes that are kind of on the edge of like we would ideally like to do a bit more endurance training with them. I might actually skip out on the gym training just to prioritize the endurance training, but for those athletes that are working in the gym, basically three to four or weeks as they get back into the gym after the season break would be just preparation work with minimal weights and focusing on good movement, quality of each exercise, and then moving on to increasing the weights to more moderate weights and, uh, a moderate rep range, or you could almost call it hyper a hypertrophy rep range. Sure. Sort of a hypertrophy work, even though for endurance athletes, as we know, they’re quite unlikely to have any real hypertrophy, but for me it’s more about networking as a transition phase between the preparation and the maximum strength phase and, and the power phase.

Mikael Eriksson (01:03:15):

And then the maximum strength phase would be again, keeping same exercises, but using heavy weights and, and low reps. So, so that’s, that’s the basic prioritization and just working through a month or so of, of each of those periods, uh, kind of is, is what it is. And then when we get closer to the races, I tend to scale back on the gym. So let’s say an athlete is doing two times 45 minutes to an hour in the gym per week in their winter when they’re far out from races, then as they get to the last kind of month or so before the race and do really specific training and quite demanding endurance training, we might scale it back to two times 30 minutes in the gym, or one times 30 to 40 minutes, depending on, depending on the athlete. Uh, and well, the time in the maximum strength phase basically can be quite long.

Mikael Eriksson (01:04:06):

So, as I said, three to four weeks of preparation of three to four weeks of that moderate weights, moderate trips, and then we basically stay in the maximum strength phase until, until we need to scale down again for the competitions. So because in the research, we have seen that quite long strength training program at a maximum strength, um, range of weights and repetitions has produced really good results in terms of performance improvements. So, so, so I’m not afraid of staying there for, for quite long, as long as the athlete doesn’t feel that it’s detrimental for end during training, but that is something that you have to take into account on an individual basis. I do have some athletes that are quite sensitive to gym work and with them, it’s definitely a more scaled scale back version and selecting exercises appropriately. Uh, so yeah, a couple of other points just quickly that I, I, I do like to use a mix of, uh, unilateral and bilateral exercises. I think it’s, especially for traffic that are doing running, it is important to get those UN unilateral exercises in. And, uh, and also I like to get in some power work where you just really focus on, on a, on explosiveness, in the concentric part of the, of the exercise. So in a squat, for example, lowering down slowly, but shooting up with, with power and explosiveness and then the, the weights would be, would be lower. So, so those are a couple of additional points that I include in the strength training.

Adam Pulford (01:05:36):

Yeah. Um, I’d, I’d say I do it very, very similarly. Um, and, uh, there are just a few talking points too, like manipulating, uh, directional forces, as well as, uh, like a load and velocity in order to create a different stimulus. That’s what he is talking about, about unilateral bilateral and, um, uh, the explosive movements that might was talking about. Um, yeah, that, that, that is, that’s a very good process. I like that. And I think that, uh, for those listeners kind of wondering about the strength training, I’d say rewind, go back, listen to that aspect as it kind of pertains to performance, but also the injury prevention. I didn’t mean to like side at that. Um, because I think it’s super important. And I also have like the majority of my athletes doing something that is off the bike or away from the run or something to, um, I always say to move better and to keep the muscles activated and effectively what I am saying is to, you know, prevent an injury of some kind like that. And I think to, you know, back to the point that you were just saying, um, in terms of, um, rate of force development or, uh, making sure that these nerves and muscles are firing accordingly, whether you’re ground based or not. Um, it’s, it’s super important in my opinion, to do something, not sport based maintain that.

Mikael Eriksson (01:07:00):

Yeah. Yeah. And for cyclist, uh, like that’s, that’s a really important point because if you, if you’re only doing work on your bike, then also things like your, uh, your bone density is going to degrade and especially as you aged and you’re going to be much more likely to have, let’s say something like a fall in winter, just give you a let have you break a hip and then just impair your quality of life for, uh, for a long time. So, so these things are real considerations, not just relating to performance to the performance in your goal events, but just to longevity in, in and quality of life

Adam Pulford (01:07:40):

Hundred percent. Okay. Now it’s kind of time for that, uh, that, that golden question, or kind of this, uh, this transitional sort of time period, um, as we move from general to another focused time period, Michael, what, what is this non-general phase of training? What do you call that?

Mikael Eriksson (01:08:01):

I would call it specific preparation or the race specific period. Okay.

Adam Pulford (01:08:06):

And so when you decide to move on from general to more specific, how do you decide that, like when does that happen in an athlete and are there, are there key markers that you’re looking for to make that decision?

Mikael Eriksson (01:08:24):

Um, yeah, so they’re not marker per markers, per se. I look more so to the, to the racing calendar of the athlete and, uh, but then there are component the timing. It’s a timing component. Exactly. Yeah. And, and also it depends on the distance of the well on the event in general. So for example, the specific preparation for an Ironman would be significantly longer than a specific preparation for a sprint or even an Olympic distance race. A half Ironman is again, just as we talked about with the training, the half Ironman can go in. Like it can be just a wide variety of things, depending on the athlete and the context. So somebody for whom the half Ironman is a pure endurance event that they’re just going to, not just what they’re going to aim to complete rather than compete. And it’s you take them quite some time.

Mikael Eriksson (01:09:17):

They, they are just mainly working on their endurance, uh, to get that endurance up as much as possible. We can have a pretty long specific preparation for the half Ironman for somebody who is at that fast end on the spectrum. It can, it can be quite a bit shorter because we have to keep in mind that if you doing a lot of intense work, like there’s only so long, you can do that with frequency and with quality before you start to stop adapting positively to it and start adapting negatively to it instead. So, so it’s, yeah, it, that, that’s the reason. And that’s why I’m saying that a sprint distance race, you would need just a quite short or a really short, specific preparation period compared to an Ironman, because obviously the specific training you’re doing for a sprint distance event is very intense. Uh, so, so that’s, that’s the timing component, but another thing done just the event is also what previous events have the athlete done that some, so some, a very common scenario for, let’s say a half Ironman athlete is that they have already done two half Ironman events, uh, previously in the year.

Mikael Eriksson (01:10:26):

And they’re, uh, working towards the third half Ironman in, in the autumn. And, uh, if let’s say they did six weeks of specific preparation for their first Ironman in the year, then maybe they don’t need six for their second. And I definitely don’t need six for their third because if you kind of stack things or if you then take the year and look at, okay, how much specific work did we do? You can have athletes that raise four or five half Ironmans, and then they end up doing 24 weeks of specific training. And I think that’s just excessive. Really. Yeah. So, so, so when you have already done a good period of specific preparation for your first race, uh, then you don’t need to do the same amount for the, for the second one. It’s more about, you still have some of that, those adaptations, and it’s more about reminding the muscles that it’s there and maybe taking a further percentage improvement in that, for that, for that next race. But, but it’s not, you don’t, you’re not starting from scratch. You have a lot of those previous adaptations there already. So, so maybe they did, uh, they did 45 weeks for that second race and now third race, they only need two to three good weeks or specific preparation. And, and they’re good to go. So, so that’s, that’s kind of how the number of races and where they are in the season also play into play into it. Yep,

Adam Pulford (01:11:45):

Yep. No, that makes a lot of sense. Um, but I have curiosity question. If, if we go back to like say our time crunched athlete in, and maybe they’re not as consistent as they’re hoping to be. And I say they did like 70% of their general preparation or four to six weeks out from, uh, half iron man. And we’re just going to complete it. Would you then, would you move to a specific training time period or would you stay in an general?

Mikael Eriksson (01:12:15):

I would still, uh, incorporate many aspects of a specific period because for this athlete, all of the training that they’re doing in a specific period is also going to be a training that is beneficial for them long term. So again, it would still fall under that base training, uh, if, uh, definit, if, uh, if that is the definition of it, as we talked about at the beginning. So in for this athlete, maybe it doesn’t matter so much that they’re, they didn’t do all of their, the, the work that they would’ve done in the general preparation. Uh, like it’s, it’s all about being consistent really for, for this athlete. So, so I, at the end of the day, I don’t think it matters for, for an athlete like that. If they do more general training or more specific training, it’s, it’s not going to make too big a difference what’s going to make a difference is that they can be consistent in those last 46 weeks, but they might as well try to do some specific training in that period. It’s not going to be a negative compared to doing nonspecific work. I don’t think so. So I, I would, yeah, I would just try to do the best of those 46 weeks that they have.

Adam Pulford (01:13:25):

Yeah. Yeah. And, and, you know, nod to the consistency. I, I think if anybody, um, extracts anything from this conversation, consistency is key over time. I mean, it helps you to not only, uh, be more specifically than up to an event, but it also, uh, creates more volume over time, which is, you know, kind of at the end of whatever time period, you’re looking at that the number of hours actually that moves the needle on things. Yeah. Um, yeah, so I, I know you said that there’s no specific say, say marker, um, that you’re looking at if say somebody is very consistent coming up to a, um, a race specific time period, but just outta curiosity as well. Is, are, I mean, are you looking at metrics like FTP or stamina, or are you looking at a performance marker, like a power duration for, um, say the projected time period that they’re gonna be on course or any other like nerdy data points that we can just like spark my curiosity about Michael?

Mikael Eriksson (01:14:26):

Yeah. Um, I mean, I definitely look at, at those things, like in w K O I, I do love it, uh, as well, and, and it’s really good, um, a really good tool for coaches. So, so I do look at, at FTP and model FTP stamina. I look at it. I, I don’t care so much for it to be honest. I look, I think the key thing that I look at is when we, when we’re already in the specific period, if the simulation workouts, so for an Ironman, for example, doing a five to six hour ride with three times, one hour at, at, uh, Ironman race power. And, and, and especially when you have historical data from the athlete, if they also did that last year, then you can look at things like RP and heart rating that workout and compare those. Those to me are the most, uh, yeah, the, the, the, the most important things is really the simulation workouts and, uh, and how they trend over time.

Mikael Eriksson (01:15:18):

Um, but certainly, yeah, FTP, or just general power duration numbers, uh, mean max powers or different distances, depending on what the athlete has been training. Even though, again, you always have to take things into content. Maybe we haven’t been doing maximal training per se. So, so a lot of it also comes down to how they been performing in nonspecific workouts. So let’s say we’ve been in a V2 max period look at, okay, so what are their numbers in, in their intros? And, and let’s see, okay, what did they do last year? That gives you a, the directional piece of information about, about how, how the athlete is trending and where view to max is at. So, um, so yeah, there, there’s definitely looking at mean max powers, FTP and so on, but, but mostly looking at performances in, in race, in, in training and in potential tune up, tune up races as well that, that they have been doing.

Adam Pulford (01:16:13):

Yeah. And I, and I think that, you know, that specificity, um, for the race in particular that you just described of, you know, um, kinda simulating race course and going and doing that training, I mean, it definitely follows the training principles of specificity, um, as well as creates durability, uh, in a physical for that race time period. But I’d imagine that there’s also some of this, um, you know, benefit of, uh, I don’t know, durability psychologically, that would go into knowing how to handle a course over time. Um, yeah. Am I right

Mikael Eriksson (01:16:48):

In that? Oh, ex absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, I think so. And, and I think for Ironman, for example, why one thing that I personally find useful is actually doing over distance bikes. So, um, I was training for an Ironman in 2020 that then in the end got canceled due to COVID, but I took a week where I just, I guess, a training camp for myself and did a bit of work still, but, but mostly I was, I was just training and eating and, and I did three rides that week of 200 plus kilometers. I think there were 215, 220 and 225 kilometers in, in the space of a week there. And, and doing those were rides that really completely changed my out outlook on, on the Ironman, uh, bike and my confidence going into it. My, yeah, my mindset, my psychology, I, I was just so much more confident about how I could perform after, after those workouts. That’s not for everybody necessarily, but, but I think it, it just, it’s an example of how I, there is definitely a psychological component to, to that type of work as well.

Adam Pulford (01:17:54):

Yeah. So the, the over distance on the bike, basically what you’re saying is you’re doing just more volume on the bike and doing rides that are longer than I am distance in order to kind of prepare

Mikael Eriksson (01:18:04):

For that. Yeah. So those, those rides would’ve been in miles, uh, what, like 100, 4 40, uh, I guess, yeah, one 40, more or less around hundred 40 and, and the, the Ironman bike is one 12 miles. So, uh, so yeah.

Adam Pulford (01:18:18):

All right. Um, so for, when you’re working with an athlete on say the race simulations, um, are you actually bringing them to the course to get some of this coursework in, are you simulating on, uh, like swift or, or something like that, or are you just finding what they have in the backyard in order to get this training done when it comes to some race simulation, be it swim, bike, or run?

Mikael Eriksson (01:18:43):

Uh, yes. So all, all of those really, uh, I have had some examples of athletes that have done races well that are doing oh, of races. And then definitely when whenever possible training on the race course is absolutely something, something to, you should do get, get to know the race course. And, um, I, I mean that same scenario that I live very close to the Ironman Portugal race course. And, and I do try to, uh, try to ride on it quite often, although maybe less often now, because traffic is just pretty bad on, on that particular stretch, not bad in that it’s unsafe, but it’s annoying. You have to stop a lot. Yeah. So, but, but when, whenever possible, I think that, yeah, it’s a, it’s a good thing to incorporate at least at least some, some riding on the race course, if you can.

Mikael Eriksson (01:19:29):

Uh, and, and in terms of when, when living on the race course, definitely. I think that if you can still find similar type of terrain, uh, in your backyard, then absolutely make use of that. That makes a whole lot of sense. If you’re going to do a hilly race, then find hilly courses and ride on them. If you’re going to do a flat one, then, uh, ride a lot on flat courses and, and swift. Yes, that too. Uh, I think not necessarily, I, a couple of times I have gone to the length of, you know, doing a best by click plan and downloading it as an I file or a swift file that the athlete can then write in I mode. And so it’s something that I do in certain situations, but more so in, in more general terms, I say, I think that we, we often think of Ironman and half Ironman, especially as very steady state affairs.

Mikael Eriksson (01:20:21):

So a typical workout would often be, uh, three times one hour at 75% of FTP, for example, would be a good Ironman workout or, uh, four times 20, 20 minutes at 85% for a 73 race. But depending on the, on the race, the athlete is training for. And also if they are pro and race dynamics are going to play a big part, then that’s definitely not going to be the, the case. For example, one, uh, simulation work that I do with, with some pros is to do something like six times, 12 minutes, where the first 12 minutes is the hardest, and then they’re gradually decreasing slightly in power. So that the average power is still slightly higher than their seven three I average power. But basically that means that they start close the threshold for 12 minutes to just to simulate the, the race dynamics.

Mikael Eriksson (01:21:16):

And, and that’s, that’s only the dynamic side of the thing, but then the other aspect is of course the terrain. So if you are, you live where you only have flats around you, but you’re going to race a hill course, then definitely you need to look at, okay, what, what is the expected power profile? Are you going to have a good number of 10, 20 minute climbs where you are closer to threshold, not at threshold, but closer than your average, and then kind of coasting or pedaling more easily down for long stretches than the specific workers are going to look more like that rather than the typical for four times 20 at 85%, which would be more of a standardized, flat, flat course where race dynamics does play part.

Adam Pulford (01:21:58):

Yeah, yeah, for sure. Um, so I guess to, to bring this thing home, I mean, you know, we’ve been talking about, um, durability over time. And so if an athlete puts these principles in, into play a, and they build themselves to be durable over time, what, what is like the number one or two successful things that they can expect or identify in themselves say, you know, a couple weeks out from training that would identify themselves as, you know, being I’m I’m durable. I I’m, I’m ready for this thing.

Mikael Eriksson (01:22:31):

Yeah. I, I think that there’s two things. Uh, one is just their performance in those workouts. And, uh, especially for athletes where that is limited, and we are specifically working in workouts like that one workout that I like to give athletes is a ride. It can be of any length really, but we let’s say you’re doing a three and a half hour endurance ride, but then you, in the last kind of 45 minutes, you include 30 minutes straight at kind of tempo to, uh, or half, half Ironman race power. So, so when, when you can do that at the end of a kind of solid zone, two ride, and then you feel better and better, then, then you know, that your durability is improving. Uh, so, so your performance in some key workouts is, is one, one way that, you know, that you’re improving. And then the other thing is also just being able to go through your training program and better on a day to day basis.

Mikael Eriksson (01:23:26):

I think, I think as well has, um, has something to do with dur ability and, uh, and at the, when, when that happens, when you have improved and, uh, it definitely helps athletes with, with confidence, especially those that, uh, that do tend to struggle in the latter part of race and have had experiences like that where they just fall apart in less 10 kilometers on the run. But when you put together a period, when you, when you really nailed those durability workouts, then yeah. That the effort gets an entirely new level of confidence in, in their ability to perform on race day. Absolutely.

Adam Pulford (01:24:02):

Yeah, no, that’s a, that’s a great, um, some age of that. And speaking of summation, I think it’s time to, to kind of hit these summary points, Michael, and, uh, kind of package to our listeners, everything that we have just discussed. So for the concepts of durability, like what are the couple, couple points or takeaways that you want our listeners to remember about? What do your ability is?

Mikael Eriksson (01:24:28):

Yeah, so for what it is. Yeah. So for what it is just quickly it’s to minimize your performance, uh, impairments when exercising for long durations and, uh, to minimize how much you, your performance impairs and at what point that happens and, and how to improve it, first of all, I, or number one, two, and three is just be consistent. That’s, that’s the number one thing. Secondly, I think that overall training volume has something to do with it, but as you pointed out earlier, of course, it’s the same thing. You can’t just think about increasing training volume, it’s all contextual and, and needs to be done gradually and within other constraints of life and other stressors that you have. Uh, but, but overall training volume has I think, a lot to do with, with your durability. Uh, and then I think doing long workouts in all three disciplines, uh, if you’re a trap fleet, so doing fire case swims doing an hour and a half to two hours on the run, doing five hours on the bike, those types of workouts help.

Mikael Eriksson (01:25:26):

And, uh, and then secondly, to add a bonus point to that one, as I talked about with the bike example, adding some quality work towards the end of, of workouts like that, uh, is, is another piece on the puzzle, but you won’t become a durable effort just by doing those workouts. If you’re not consistent, if you don’t have a reasonable overall training volume, like an individual workout can only do so much, there are no magic workouts. Uh, but then I also think one, one thing that I think has something to do with durability, even though I’m not sure is strength, endurance workouts. So for example, locate and work on the bike long hill reps or long hilly runs on the run. So that’s, that’s one thing that I’m not sure of, but I, I do think that I see a correlation between, between that and durability.

Adam Pulford (01:26:14):

Uh, I, I would agree with you on that. And just as a side note, uh, discussion point in our summary, um, yeah, that that’s real for sure. And I think it’s linked more toward that, like peripheral, uh, durability, if you will. Um, I, I oftentimes in my mountain bikers, you know, call it power for repeatability, um, or on a hilly course, um, the ability to repeat those kind of specific locates or high force, you know, outputs, and there’s, there’s some stuff that I look in, in, in a power file to identify that. Um, however, I would say there’s no one tool say existing right now that can identify some of that, like strength, endurance work, or power for repeatability specifically the way that I think you and I are talking about it. Hmm. Yeah, for sure. I, I see it as well, um, to kind of, to summarize this general and specific time period in, in, in my whole agenda here is to get people maybe looking at your puritization in a different way, but if you could, uh, just kind of summarize the general to specific and then how, when to change, how would you summarize that whole kind of package of thinking about puritization?

Mikael Eriksson (01:27:26):

Yeah, so, so first of all, I think the main point to take away is that almost everything you’re doing as an athlete is, can be seen as building you as a better athlete, long term. So you don’t necessarily need to distinguish anything really. There is. However, as you talked about before the principle of specificity, there, it, it does make some sense to do specific work close to the race. So the way that I look at it, and as we talked about in, in this podcast is to have a specific preparation period that is event specific and, uh, timing, uh, timing dependent really, and everything else is general preparation. And, uh, so in, and in the general preparation, the key things are to just know why you’re doing the training you’re doing, and that stems from really doing, having a good idea of what your goals are, where you currently stand and doing a gap analysis and looking at all of the things that you need to look at, uh, terrain, competitive landscape event and so on.

Mikael Eriksson (01:28:27):

So yeah, that’s in, in very broad strokes, that’s, that’s how I would look at it. Uh, there’s, it’s, there’s no magic that happens in any given phase. So, so I don’t think you need to look at, okay, this is what I need to do to move from one phase to the next it’s, it’s just semantics really. But, but if you accept the whole notion of doing specific work, closer to race than you are going to do that, and then basically use the rest of the time that you’re not in those specific periods of training to work on what you need to improve, to improve as an athlete, both for the races that you’re preparing for, but also in the long term,

Adam Pulford (01:29:04):

That’s it? Yeah. Yeah, that’s it. And you kind of took away my, our, uh, you know, emphasized my final point, as you know, there’s no magic method and as much as we’re even talking about a simplistic method here of general and specific, and kind of how you, um, coach an athlete through a process, even that, I mean, you know, it’s, it’s, there’s nothing magical about that other than organizing well, thinking through, you know, uh, strengths, weaknesses, what the athlete needs when, um, and delivering that through, through the training process. So, um, yeah, I, I think, I mean, we went long, which is, which is always kind of my preferred and awesome, but like, uh, we touched on like so much, Michael, and I really want to thank you again for jumping on the train right podcast and, and being a guest here. I, I really appreciate it.

Mikael Eriksson (01:29:52):

Yeah, thanks. Uh, I really enjoyed the conversation, Adam, and, and as for the length for the podcast, I’ve always been a believer that, uh, there’s no right. Length of podcast is as long as it needs to be and, and the right length, uh, for it. So, uh, so I, I hope that the listeners agree.

Adam Pulford (01:30:06):

Yeah. Uh, when I’ve resent and I, I hope the listeners agree to, and if they, if they do agree, go ahead, give us that five star rating, say how much you liked Michael. And, uh, uh, you know, you can catch us on, um, apple, Google spot, all the places that you can get Michael’s podcast as well, which is called that triathlon show. And, and, and you can get ’em all in that, in those places. Right? Michael? Yeah. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Okay. And if people are curious to follow you on social media, where are you most active there?

Mikael Eriksson (01:30:39):

Um, it’s probably Instagram scientific track flown HQ. Uh, we don’t post to be honest much more than the newly released episodes. I guess I am a bit active on Twitter as well. That’s where sometimes I post a bit more, you know, personal views on training and at least I retweet some stuff fairly actively. So that’s also scientific, well, is it no it’s side, try it on Twitter because there’s a character limit to your, to your handle there. Uh, so Twitter is a good place to follow me.

Adam Pulford (01:31:08):

Perfect. Yeah. And, uh, I guess final, I mean, what, can we get a sneak peek of some topics or guests that will be coming out on that triathlon show?

Mikael Eriksson (01:31:18):

Uh, yes. So we

Adam Pulford (01:31:20):

Have, is that confidential information? No, no,

Mikael Eriksson (01:31:21):

It’s not confidential. It’s, it’s actually that I did a ton of interviews in November, December, and the interviews that I’m releasing right now, as we’re recording at the end of January are still recorded in this period. Now I’m coming to kind of the endo deadline. So I’m going to have to gather up some guests, uh, soon. And I actually don’t have that many episodes scheduled yet. Um, I think I have Marco Tini. They will come on to talk about heart rate variability. Yep. Quite soon. And, uh, the other one that I have is Andy Kirkland is coming on, but they will probably be out already by the time this podcast is released, maybe because it’s coming out already in three days as we’re recording. So, um, yeah, mark T is the one that is in the pipeline and, and then I actually have some work to do next week to look at, uh, who the next, uh, batch of guests will be and, and invite them on the podcast.

Adam Pulford (01:32:12):

Awesome. Well, cool. Well, I look forward to those shows and, um, we’ll make sure that, uh, that I go into my phone and, and download those for some long rides coming up.

Mikael Eriksson (01:32:21):

So, yeah. Awesome. Cool.

Adam Pulford (01:32:24):

Well, thanks again, Michael. I, I really appreciate

Mikael Eriksson (01:32:26):

Your time. Thanks. Uh, appreciate it. Have a, have a great weekend. Thanks.

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