Rethinking Volume

Due to life happening, I've found myself having to reduce the planned time or distance of a few of my long training days. Typically my approach when I have done this has been to work around the top end of my heart rate range, instead of at the low or middle ranges. Over the last few weeks I have noticed a couple of things, that has made me rethink my approach to the long days.

Basically it comes down to fatigue levels and quality of training. I find I start to struggle from a fatigue point of view, need more sleep and have my ability to push the harder efforts decline when I am consistently putting in the really long, low intensity days. When I have cut back a little, I find I not only do I feel like I have a ridiculous amount of energy, but the quality of training seems to improve. Remember I do not use the word quality purely as a synonym for "high intensity". By quality, I mean achieving the goals of the session.

To put things in a little perspective, the extra long runs are over 3 hours, and on the bike are over 6 hours. The reduced versions give me something like 2:45 on the run and 4:30-5:00 on the bike. I still think there is a place for the extra long days, but I am rethinking the need to do them every training cycle. A little more variability in the training load appears to be a bit more productive, even if this is only through having me feel better about my training.

Just because it is written on my plan, doesn't mean my body is able to cope with the demand. I need to keep in my head, that training should be designed to build the body up so it can perform on race day, not wear it down before I get there. This reevaluating is all part of the fun of training for the Ironman. If it was easy, it wouldn't be worth doing.


  1. Interesting post Jason.

    I think we can all get caught up in achieving our volume targets and treating quality as a secondary concern.

    I am interested in your thoughts as to why you would like to run over 3 hours each cycle. Is it really necessary? 3 hour runs take it out of you no matter who you are. Do you think they are of much more benifit than say a 2:15 or 2:30 run.

    For HIM and IM training (on a weekly cycle), what do you think of alternating weekly long rides and long runs so you only do one long run/ride every fortnight? This way you can ensure you are not overdoing it, but ensuring the quality of a really long session each fortnight.

    I would be interested in your thoughts.


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