In the fifth installment from my new book on Endurance Lifestyle Design, I break down the major differences between the New and Old school approaches to endurance training.
The basic concept of Endurance Lifestyle Design isn’t entirely new…but how we approach it today most certainly is. The intentional integration of sport and lifestyle represents a fundamental shift in both how we live but in also how the sports we play are perceived by the public at large. For a growing percentage of people, being an endurance athlete is now a badge of honor, not something to hide from the boss.
While this is a far cry from the days when endurance sports were male-dominated, relatively off-the-grid affairs, there are still a lot of psychological ties to the Old School.
- Mistakenly assuming the monk-like training lifestyle/existence of Pro athletes to be a prerequisite of success.
- The misconception that training with intensity means burning out and ultimately underachieving.
- An archane annual planning process that forces unrealistic long-term planning.
- Obsessive tracking of time & distance as critical training benchmarks.
Part of the resilience of the Old School model is due to the fact that our sport is full of legends who have lived that life. In a game of mega training hours and minimal science, of incredible efforts and rudimentary equipment, endurance sports success is more often than not about one thing…attrition. This survivalist scenario means that only those who survived those brutal hours of training were left standing — and leaving the rest of us with a very limited sample size from which to glean our training advice.
The 21st century life is chock full of multitasking, leveraging technology, managing quickly changing priorities and much more. On some level, the Old School endurance lifestyle is extremely alluring precisely because it requires complete attention and devotion. Avoiding the daily problems we face to achieve success in just one area of our lives isn’t a win at all. It’s a non-starter for the vast majority of us who love our families, jobs, and friends as much as — if not more than — our sport.
So what separates the New School (NS) of endurance athletes from their Old School (OS) counterparts? For many it’s an issue of principle, a way of life that came long before the passion for endurance sports took hold. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late for you. While this list is triathlon-specific, the qualities are not limited by sport.
There are plenty of similarities across the spectrum of endurance sports, see if you can find some that map to your personal experience.
OS: Volume of training is most important factor.
NS: Quality training trumps volume.
OS: Consistency defined by daily amounts of training done consecutively.
NS: Consistency defined by continually improving critical benchmarks, accomplished through hard sessions and adequate recovery.
OS: To be incredibly fit.
NS: To be fit for a purpose (what are you training for?), and to leverage that fitness to do cool stuff.
OS: Fill available time with multiple, often contradictory, training exercises (i.e. cross training).
NS: Do the work that needs to be done in each session, extra only if your schedule allows it (sport specificity). Extra time driven into other activities.
OS: It’s the Engine, not the Equipment.
NS: Equipment Matters.
OS: Subjective — Perceived Exertion, Stopwatch.
NS: Objective — Data (Power, Pace, Heart Rate, etc.)
OS: Your life is your training schedule, period.
NS: Training schedule built to fit your life.
OS: Coach / Expert Manages Your Plan
NS: You Manage Your Plan
OS: It’s the destination — Train for an entire year, or multiple years, focused on a single event or athletic goal.
NS: It’s the journey — Balance training and racing to make the process of getting fitter and better more fun.
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Click here to read Part 6 in the weekly Endurance Lifestyle Book update series. Please post your comments below and thanks for your support!