May 4, 2010 posted by

When Not To Have A Training Schedule

I’m sitting here in a cold-induced post-travel haze evaluating my next round of training. My athletic objectives for the year have crystallized somewhat since December, and the focus of this round is the ground work for a big challenge in the fall. I have some goals along the way, however, so I’ll need to throw a few peaks into the schedule. Since some of the peaks are power oriented it presents a unique challenge given my fall birthday challenge will require massive increases in endurance.

The first thing that I ask people about making training schedules is their goals. Without an objective it’s hard to make a plan. You’re better off just following along with someone else (doing 90x, Crossfit workout, etc). It’s only when you have goals that you need to create your own plan. My goals at this time are:

1. Tick my climbing hit list for the year
2. Get ready for a big birthday challenge in the fall
3. Prep for the world duathlon championships next year

During the long days of summer I often just throw thoughts on training aside and get outside. In general I think it’s a great plan, provided you make time to do it, because if you spend enough time playing outside fitness follows. This year has more focused goals than most. I’ve got to improve my wattage on the bike and my speed in running, since I haven’t raced seriously in a few years. I also need to make some sacrifices by playing less and training more if I ever want to send my mega climbing project. I still need long days—a lot of them—and since long days diminish your ability to train for power I’m relishing the chance to push my body beyond where it’s gone before. I foresee a lot of suffering on the horizon, but the here and now presents a challenge.

The Giro d’ Italia kicks off in a week and riding a virtual Giro would be a great way to build my cycling base. As fun and tempting as it is I’m not going to do it. I’d like to take the current climbing form I have and knock off some of my list before it gets hot. Therefore, May is going to be a peaking phase in climbing and a preparatory phase for both riding and running.

This means that climbing days will be focused on getting stuff done. Redpointing and climbing hard, not training. Biking and running will be base miles. Not all slow aerobic miles but not racing either; just a lot of quality time on the roads and trails. When I’m training like this I don’t focus on much gym stuff and, instead, stick to a maintenance workout schedule. For this I’ll use p90X +. The synergist moves of X+ don’t work as well into long training programs (because they work too many areas at once) but are great for keeping your muscles in balance, which is vital when you’re performing at 100%.

Due to my immediate goals I think it’s best to not have a set schedule. This is hard to impress upon many of you Beachbody faithful because all of our programs come with schedules. For performance, however, when you are pushing your body to its maximum on some days, it’s better if you can listen to your body and base your training on how it feels. Train hard when you’re training and rest when you need rest. No compromise.

Performance windows are short. You can’t peak all the time. My current plan is to get as much done as possible before it gets hot, and then get back to a more set training scheduling leading to another big peak in the fall. I’ll post my numbers at the end of the month so you can see how this worked.


  • But to start you're going to go ride hippie bikes around in the desert with your friends and drink beer. That's base building fitness at its finest.Josh

  • fuckin' a it is. it's just like any pro bike team's training camp, for adults.

  • Can you elaborate "since long days diminish your ability to train for power" More further. How it affects power? Since I do long days 2-3 times a month, does that affect my climbing performance as I train for power with hangboards and campus?Thanks.

  • It's sort of like for every action there's a reaction. long exercise, even at low intensity, causing breakdown that affects your ability to do powerful exercise, which requires your body to be fully rested. This is why sprinters and power lifters do pretty much ZERO endurance training. Even though endurance training is "good for you" for them it interferes with their goals of doing something powerful for a short duration of time. I think I have an old post about power vs endurance that might go into this. Fred Hatfield's book Explosive Power goes into the nitty gritty.

  • Ahh Since I train primarily for power (not a huge fan of endurance) and since the birthday challenge only involves like a 7 mile run, Can I cut endurance training out of my training schedule? The first training block which involved power endurance is over and I don't plan on doing that type of training until post birthday challenge maybe. Plus bouldering is pure power so it might be a good plan?

  • I would say no. First of all because 7 miles is not close to power, which is 200 meters and less, and second because your challenge combines a lot of different things and you're going to need endurance for that. You need to have BASE endurance along with MORE power than you need. Essentially, from a power standpoint you should be able to do more than you are attempting on the volume day. If you can't on some events then schedule those earlier while you still have power left. As you get into your challenge your power will decrease over time, no matter how you train. But training endurace will allow you to keep your power longer. Since your challenge is mainly power you want to train that the most, with some baseline endurance training along with it. I think that is what you are doing, which sounds good.

  • Thanks! Maybe 1-2 more phases of power endurance in the next 6 months with a lot of power!

  • I'm ready for a weekend of riding and drinking. I will be a little disappointed if we don't approach the 20 mile mark for each day. That might be hard considering the terrain, but I'm willing to give up mileage for alcohol.

  • true that 20 miles in little creek or gooseberry is a lot of riding, but if we do two sessions each day like some of the previous trips we'll do it easily. i'm thinking of doing the big loop: gooseberry/goulds, JEM, Hurricane Rim in one day, which i think would suffice as a worthy first hippie ride of the year. gotta earn the beer. johnny always says you can only drink so much, and screw so much.

  • Good luck man! Sounds like a plan!

  • Very cool, I wish you all the best, thanx for the info, very informative, including your comments, I can't wait to re-arrange my life to have more time to go out and enjoy the outdoors again, and spend time in trails and take some hiking, I am sure it will come at some point :o)

  • Thanks for using my video and posting a picture of me and Reaf. I have that video of the late night shoulder rehabilitation session too. Want me to post it? Going to get on it asap. It was a pleasure talking with you as always Steve. You're a great guy with a ton of knowledge. I'm looking forward to your talk next summit!!!Joey Petri

  • I'll move that into the correct post…

  • Steve, I just found your blog the other day, and I must admit I am really enjoying it since you pretty much like all the sports that I do.Correct me if I am wrong, but after reading this I am getting that being an excellent endurance athlete like a cyclist, AS WELL as being a super powerful climber isn't very realistic.So does this mean that attaining a muscular physique and being a spectacular cyclist isn't very likely? The reason I ask is because I am almost finished with P90x and I have lost 20 pounds, and a fairly lean (~10% body fat) build. I am looking to add some muscle, but I am also about to start training for triathlons.Are my goals here to attain that muscular physique (not like a body builder, but more like sharma) and to get super fit endurance wise totally out of touch?Im having alot of trouble finding info on this topic so any input you have on this would be helpful. IE:where to get info, training strategy, if its possible.Thanks, Jeff

  • Jeff, You're looking at the right blog, I hope, because that's exactly what I'm always trying to do. They are mutually exclusive at the highest level, of course. Chris Sharma ain't pushin' 1800 watts with those toothpicks and Fabian Cancellara ain't doing a one-finger pull-up. But many people are accomplished at both; they just aren't at the very top level.

  • btw, dig though my blog. besides my experience i've added a lot of links to such info, as it exists anyway.

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