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home » peak fitness secret revealed!

And the secret to peak fitness is...

There is no secret; fitness will be proportional to total aerobic training time. It's really pretty simple.

There's a reason why elite swimmers are in the pool for 4 hours every day, and why elite cyclists will ride up to 600-miles a week, and why elite runners will go 100-150 miles every week: repetition makes you efficient for a certain movement and develops your aerobic system to its maximum potential.

True, with limited time training intensity can help to a point. There are plenty of plans describing ways to get fast on only x hours per week—just like that miracle diet. Problem is you'll peak quickly, and plateau at a level far from your best. Truth is there are no shortcuts.

An exampnle of the benefit to putting in time is building for an IronMan, where the depth of cycling fitness is key. Every athlete I've coached who had a great race developed their cycling with long rides to the point where 112-miles was no big thing. They finished the IM ride with plenty of fuel in the tank so they could really run after. The athletes who suffer on race day are the ones that tell me: "Well I did a couple 80-mile rides." It's not enough.

An athlete focused on National and World level competitiveness for sprint distance was disappointed to hear that lots of training time was the only way to make her faster. Logically she thought for the relatively short distance focus she would not need as much training time. It's true, she does not need as much training time to finish a sprint tri, but to race it at her full potential she does. Any race distance over about 2-minutes is an aerobic effort; speed will be determined by aerobic fitness, and the only way to get it is with training time. If your race is under 2-minutes it is a sprint; performance is mostly determined by your anaerobic system.

I recently read an article about Jonathan Brownlee's training. Keep in mind that ITU Olympic distance triathlon is an event of about 1:45 for the men. He averages 5 hours a day with a swim, run, ride, then another run each day. This—along with some genetic talent—is why he can run a 29-minute 10k after a swim and ride at redline.

Training time develops your base fitness to maximum aerobic function. Intensity work tunes this fitness for race day, but by itself does not make you faster.

So what if you can't run 80-100 miles per week like a Brownlee? What if you have physical issues that only allow you to run 15-miles a week? How can you increase run speed? Increase your total aerobic training time with more swimming and cycling. Your heart, lungs, and metabolism don't know the difference between a swim, ride, or run.

Here's what I'm saying: if you're training 7 hours a week and running 15-miles you can increase run speed without doing any more running if you increase total training time. In other words you can stick with 15 run miles per week but double total weekly training time to 14 hours with swims and rides and I promise you will run faster without more run miles.

It's a big disappointment to many I coach when they find out there's no magic to getting faster. It takes time; lots of training time. The proof is out there. The athletes finishing ahead of you may be more genetically talented; might have started at a younger age; might have significantly better form—or might simply spend more time doing aerobic training! Plan a training block of 2-3 weeks and put in the time; more time than you have before. Then take an easy week and see what happens on race day.

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