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Guide to training at Arete.

Knowledge Is Good. Understanding Is Better.

I always think it is good to publish what your training philosophy is and the method and the thinking behind the madness so that you understand the overall plans for the runners and triathletes in the group.

Over Arching Philosophy.

Whilst it might be the law of the jungle, I also like to think of it as our basis for the group.

For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

The factor that has the most significant impact on the development of athletes to reach their potential is their daily training environment.

We aim to foster a competitive yet supportive environment for all athletes who share similar goals.

Within the daily environment model, it’s not enough to simply ‘show up’ and be present, but engagement in the process and a set of attitudes and behaviours can be linked to the process leading to the best outcomes. Culture can be described as “who we are, and how we do things”, the behaviours that are supported and reinforced by the athletes, coaches and training partners.

Key cultural components of a successful environment include internal motivation, self-discipline and responsibility, bringing positive energy, being prepared, bringing passion and a full attitude of commitment to the environment and having a mentality of contribution to supporting others, and receiving support back from others in the environment (give and take). “Surrounded by commitment, success is inevitable”

The power of the daily environment towards performance improvement and achieving performance is the energy of the team surrounding the athlete, including training partners, sharing commitment to the process makes it easier to do the difficult and challenging workload required for success in endurance sport.

The endurance sport process requires extraordinary year on year work and a high level of training load to be accumulated over a long period of time. Sharing this process is a net energy and motivation positive for the athletes and allows a greater chance of success by moving through difficult periods that can be obstacles for the athlete’s long-term progression towards their potential.

Purpose of the Group.

The purpose of the group is to provide an appropriate environment to help and support athletes in running and triathlon that want to progress along a national governing body pathway and series of competitions who will look to compete at county, national level and GB level.

We are aware of easy specialisation v early focus and the problems associated with the rise and fall of talent identification and pathways.

We therefore take a very holistic view of training and we are more than aware of and cater for the non-linear development of an athlete in the group and look at factors surrounding talent ID like -

actual age,

relevant age effect,

training age,

We are really looking for an athletes:


Focus and distraction control

Realistic performance evaluation.


Coping with pressure

Planning and self-organisation.

Appropriate goal setting.

Quality practice.

Actively seeking support.

Philosophy on Arete Training.

Over the last five years, I have been studying the training of the top athletes and the development of junior athletes. I have researched, and in many cases, have been speaking to the coaches around the globe that have produced the top athletes and found out what they are doing and what they would have done differently, especially at junior level.

I have also cross referenced this with peer-reviewed scientific journals like the British Journal of Sports Medicine to try and triangulate any findings.

Putting aside appropriate development, long term athlete development, training levels, enjoyment etc which are all important and a given, three things keep reoccurring and interlinking, which in no particular order are:

1 - Deep Aerobic Conditioning.

2 - Threshold training/VO2 Max training.

3 - 80/20 (ish) philosophy.

Deep Aerobic Conditioning.

The idea behind deep aerobic conditioning is twofold.

Filliol is probably the best proponent of this I have seen. He likes to focus on conditioning via volume and frequency as a priority going for consistency of training with minimal interruptions. He makes sure he doesn't overemphasise speed in the training process and prefers to work on developing “deep" aerobic conditioning and threshold speed.

He believes this to be the superior way to build resistance to fatigue under variable conditions, and it is the athlete that is capable of maintaining the highest threshold speed that is best placed to challenge.

Secondly, one of the issues that athletes have as they move through the age groups is that they are not used to the volume and intensity of training.

This model provides helps athletes get ready to reach a level where a higher density of intensity sessions can be absorbed optimally in the context of a high chronic load at the same time.

This may be one of the key differentiators of top athletes in terms of their ability to manage high-quality training sessions under high chronic load (still based on the above principle) for long periods.

In general, the maximum effective density for most pro athletes during a specific preparation period is 2 high-intensity sessions in each discipline per week.

Threshold training/VO2 Max training.

Two of the biggest names in this area are Ingerbritsen and Blummenfelt. If you listen to Arild Tveiten – coach of Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden, the main pillars of their training methodology is high volume at low intensity and a substantial amount of work at lactate threshold.

Threshold rates are really important; having an anaerobic threshold as high as possible means that in a race, your competitors with a lower anaerobic threshold will have to activate that energy system sooner and will be more susceptible to fatigue as you come to the end of the race.

The purpose of the threshold training is to improve your body's ability to clear blood lactate, i.e. teaching your body to deal with a slightly demanding pace for a prolonged period of time.

In essence, what we are trying to do is move on the point at which production levels of lactate starts to exceed clearance.

As long as the clearance of lactate is matched by its production, lactic acid is actually an important source of fuel.

This training is to try and acclimatise your body's response to an increase in lactate and, therefore, your ability to work at higher intensities for longer periods of time.

There is a common misconception that is it is Lactic Acid that is to blame for post-race soreness and that Lactic Acid is bad.

The soreness is not Lactic Acid it is usually as a result of the micro trauma to the muscles in the session.

A lot of people say that they 'feel' Lactic Acid in their legs. This is also a myth.

Lactic acid is the byproduct that's created where we burn glycogen without oxygen when we compete.

The faster/longer/more intense we go the more lactic acid is created in the blood, it breaks down into lactate and hydrogen ions. The lactate is processed and converted into fuel.

The problem is actually created by the excess hydrogen ions, not an increase in lactate..

When hydrogen ions accumulate, it becomes more difficult for the muscles to contract, and it makes racing feel harder.

Hence the need for these sessions.

80/20 (ish) philosophy.

There is a popular notion that high intensity affects the body in the same way as low and moderate intensity, only more so. Therefore many athletes undervalue and underutilise low and moderate sessions.

However, all three training ranges are essential ingredients in the recipe for long term development.

Whilst we know about the benefits of moderate and high-intensity people often feel low-intensity is a waste of time.

Low intensity is about 78% of maximum heart rate but not below 60%.

When we refer to low intensity, we are not talking about walking, but training at efforts

that fall in this 60 - 78% range of maximum heart range.

Training in this range will improve your aerobic capacity.

It will help build mitochondria and help the bodies ability to extract oxygen from the atmosphere, and transport it to the working muscle more efficiently.

Low-intensity exercise stimulates a variety of physiological adaptions that elevate aerobic capacity.

These changes include a stronger heart that pumps more blood per contraction, increased blood volume, more red blood cells and greater capillary density.

High-intensity exercise stimulates the same adaptions but in a different way.

One example is the molecule called interleukin (IL-6) that plays an important role in supplying energy to muscles during exercise, it is proved that prolonged workouts at lower intensities generate far higher levels of IL-6 than do high-intensity workouts. High levels of IL-6 are associated with bigger improvements in VO2 MAx. This doesn't mean low intensity is better training than high intensity, but it does mean it is impossible to maximise aerobic capacity without doing low-intensity workouts.

Another benefit of low intensity is the improvement of the muscles to use fat as fuel. This means it gives athletes a bigger tank to draw upon in races.

Notes on Training Peaks.

Training Peaks.

I have been using training peaks for the last five years, so I am pretty familiar with the system and the numbers it produces.

I am a big advocate of TP, but two things I would say.

Firstly I think it is not relevant for the kids at this age to be tied into CTL, ATL and TSB numbers that it produces or the PMC chart as I don't think they need to be, and given their age, it is a bit too serious.

Secondly, I don't think the data output and interpretation for them in terms of Fitness (CTL), Fatigue (ATL ) and Form (TSB) produces an accurate measure for them, primarily because of the quality and variability of the input.

It is, however, fantastic for monitoring and setting training, coach communication, an overview of plans, looking back at sessions, a training diary etc.

It is also great for an athlete to use the structured workout that automatically tells them to work at relevant paces/thresholds and speed, and this will automatically increase as they get fitter and faster. This last bit, I think, is one of the best features.

So I would use the numbers as a guide to a trend rather than an absolute. i.e. if the form/fatigue etc, is trending in the right direction instead of the actual number itself. Over time, probably after a good full season, these numbers might regulate to be a better predictor in absolute terms.

But to give you a quick overview of the numbers in case you want to look at them:

TSS - The industry has moved away from looking at time spent training to the intensity of each training session. TSS (Training Stress Score) monitors the intensity of each session, and it is based on the Intensity Factor (IF) x the minutes spent training in each session.

Chronic Training Load (CTL) or Fitness

Chronic Training Load takes a 7- 12 week average to provide a value of how hard an athlete has trained historically. So CTL represents the training an athlete has done in the past 7 - 12 weeks.

Fatigue (ATL)

This combines duration and intensity to provide a value of how much an athlete has recently trained. TrainingPeaks calculates ATL, by default, as the exponentially weighted average of daily TSS for the past seven days. In effect, ATL represents the training an athlete has done in the past two weeks, given the nature of exponentially weighted averages.

Form (TSB)

This represents the difference in the balance of training stress. TSB provides a measure of how much an athlete trained recently (ATL) compared with how much an athlete trained historically (CTL). Training Peaks calculates TSB by subtracting yesterday's fatigue from yesterday's Fitness Form (TSB) = Yesterday's Fitness (CTL) - Yesterday's Fatigue (ATL).

You can see from all the calculations it is quite scientific and therefore relies on the data being 100% accurate, and we have not yet gone into the different variables based on whether it uses power, heart rate or speed to get to the data input.

Therefore I would take with a pinch of salt the absolute numbers and relay more on how those numbers are trending.

Please do not hesitate to drop me a line if you have any questions.

I am always happy to bore you talk to you about it.!

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