May 13, 2010

Thoughts on Endurance Sport

This is an endurance sport blog and at times, those lines get a little blurred with personal experience, product profiles, videos for mom, dad and friends, etc etc etc.

In the last few weeks there have been a similar set of questions asked to me and there must be a reason for that. To clear some air and save me some time, here are some of the most common questions that have been asked of me with relation to endurance sport and how to increase performance.

First off, however, I need to be grateful for everyone who is wondering why I am not turning pro, after being 2nd South African home at Ironman South Africa a few weeks ago. I have no intention of going pro in the near future unless someone wants to jump in and sponsor me a considerable financial injection for a period of roughly 5 years, which is more or less what I think it’ll take me to become one of the worlds best Ironman triathletes.

My choice to not be pro is a combination of financial consideration, time commitment and loving my life outside triathlon. Ironman, mountain biking, multi sport and trail running are for me, distraction from my daily life. I don’t want to make it the means from which I earn my food and pay my bills. I do not feel I have the scope to improve within a year to a point where I can justify, financially, to commit for the next 6-8 years of my life, a life of training full time. Unless the back-up is there, I just do NOT see the point.

Thanks for the belief, but I have yet to find someone who when they asked if I was going pro, believed in me enough to contribute the financial commitment to the cause to make sure I was able to do it properly.

Back to the questions:

Q: How long did it take me to prepare for Ironman South Africa, 2010.

A: Me entire life. 10 years of low intensity high volume swimming, added to the middle area where I was chronically injured for about 10 years getting into triathlon, added to the last 3 years of proper cycling and running volume, combined with correct intensities and working on my weaknesses. Its not a short period. People who think they can train for Ironman for 6 months and go sub 10 need to be re-looking their strategy. The economy of a top level age grouper is close to that of a pro, and when we go back to the 10 000 hours principles, it’s a bitter pill to swallow that it might take you 3 years to get where you want without achieving your goal.

In a world of single serving immediate fixes, this isn’t what athletes want to hear.

Q: Why don’t you train in groups more?

A: Its a simple answer. Groups train too hard and too fast for me. They lack the ability to gauge proper intensity with respect to putting an entire good week together without skipping sessions of bombing out halfway through sessions.

There is a group of guys I ride with in Cape Town in the mornings, and I wish I could find more time to swim with the White Rabbit, but other than those two, they don’t quite get it. Even the group of biking guys beat me up the hills most days.

Q: How much HTFU do you recommend in training?

A: Very limited amounts, to be dead honest. Its more like STFD. That would be Slow The…. (you`ll work it out). I need to slow down quite a bit alot of the time. HTFU leads to periods of deep fatigue, where I find myself totally blasted in terms of motivation and ability to eat properly.

I advocate steady miles, and loads of them. There is zero intensity in my program. Not a meter. Not a second. Don’ train fast if you are going to go slow. The guys I help with coaching all go slow most of the time. I can break them going slow, so you can imagine how fast I could break them if I added intensity to their sessions.

So when people I coach email me saying they are tired, 99 times out of 100 I will tell them to take a day off and sleep alot and start again after that. It’s the same way I treat my body.

Q: So what’s the next big challenge?

This has been a particularly popular one lately. Here is the plan, as the next real challenge is putting the cash together to get to Hawaii.

May – take it easy. Yoga, bike riding, easy running and swimming.

June to Sep – 15 weeks of hard work, big base, long miles, loads of ME work. Very similar to what I did last year in the period Aug – October.

Middle September to 8 October – peak, taper, get ready to kick ass.


That’s about that for today. Should answer a few questions. Have a great day.

6 Comments on “Thoughts on Endurance Sport

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Vincent Nortier
May 14, 2010 at 9:58 am

The fastest way to any destination is via the correct route… sounds like you’ve got yours perfectly plotted! Best of luck for The Big Show!

David Talbot
May 16, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Great Blog bud. Learnt alot training with you, most of all learnt how much there is to learn. Endurance sport is such an awsesome headspace, and love the way you express that space to the rest of the world out there. Rock on!

White Rabbit
May 17, 2010 at 9:10 pm

the white rabbit says come swim anytime!its still same place, same time. 🙂

Mark Zarro
July 16, 2010 at 12:54 pm

LOL, getting the sponsorship is always the challenge. if it were easy to do there would be a LOT more professionals than there are today: you and me included. I haven’t done as well as you, but I think I could be good enough to go pro if I had the sponsorship and the option of training full time, but as it is… oh well. Thanks for the post.


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