“The Pro’s aren,t afraid to go hard.. And they aren’t afraid to go easy”. Somewhat counter-intuitively, what the majority of endurance athletes can fall victim to is being afraid to go easy enough on their easy training and go hard enough on their hard training. When properly performing and training in Zone 1, it can and should feel almost too easy. With this concerning and inherent aspect of Polarised Training, trusting that that intensity is most beneficial can be difficult.
Thoughts like “this is too easy, surely I cannot be getting any benefit from this” or “if a teammate or coach or training buddy sees me going this easy they will think I am lazy or weak” are not unusual.
Overriding what the science says, our inner irrational chimp mind makes us push harder until the point where its just hard enough that I feel like I am doing something, but not easy enough that I feel like I am wasting time. This can quickly spiral into a perpetual loop where because our easy stuff feels hard, when it comes to the hard stuff, we take it too easy. Fatigued mentally from toeing that line of “just hard enough” results in exhaustion and residual stress and harmful hormones building in our energy systems that prevent us from performing when the important intensity work comes around. As the SCIENCE SHOWS this leads to the less efficient training of Threshold training.
A strong understanding of the purpose and aim of the training session should be enforced before starting. Ask yourself the question, what is the objective of this session?
When it comes to the majority of what us endurance athletes should be doing (Zone 1) then the answer is: Spend X amount of time in the Zone 1 training zone. Remain strict and do not let speeds or power readings tell us that it’s not enough. Strictly monitor our intensity through the duration of the session. The answer should NOT be: to run 5 seconds per km faster than last run, or to pull bigger splits than my buddy who posted his “steady state” erg screen this morning etc.
When it comes to the less common, but equally if not more important super intense Zone 3 sessions, our purpose is to produce maximum power and intensity for times of intervals or distances. Now is the time to go full gas.
When done correctly, holding back enough in the Zone 1 part of Polarised Training builds not only a physiological readiness to perform maximum intensity but also an eagerness in us to go flat out accumulates throughout a training week. This facilitates us to get more out of Zone 3 training as we end up with higher quality and higher intensity. Zone 3 is where we want to force our body into making new adaptations.
Competitiveness is absolutely a fantastic instinct in all of us. It is a massively useful characteristic of humans that has pushed us to where we are today. Competitiveness can also be massively destructive in maximising our potential. Be aware that danger moments will often tempt you into leaving your training zone. People who you may have beaten or consider yourself to be better than may go faster than you when you are doing your Zone 1 work. They may come in after their session and brag to their friends “I overtook so and so and that means I am better than them”. If this irritates you, you will have to learn to overcome your ego and remain focussed and s=disciplined on why you are training. Striving towards being a better athlete is about striving towards towards an elite mindset, part of that is being %100 confident and clear in your intent on a daily basis. Build capillaries, not egos.
The Take Homes
Understand the objective of your session, and stick to it
Have confidence that what your prescribed intensity is, that it is BEST FOR YOU. Do not be off put by someone overtaking you. Let them overtrain, save it for race or test day.
Build capillaries not egos
Red Flags to AVOID!
“Well I know of this one person or one team that uses this method AND THEYRE REALLY GOOD”
“So and so pulled a fat erg by pulling these splits for their “steady state” “
“We should push the limit every day, everyday is a GRIND”
“If we want to nudge our fitness we have to nudge our intensity, so we should increase the intensity of our endurance Zone 1 Training”
If you want to take your training a step further, with help implementing Polarised Training and much more, contact us below.