It takes patience to build the aerobic base, yet the investment is worth it.

As the winter start to bite here in Switzerland, our crews are doing what they think think they need to do to prepare for the racing season that starts in May. Many are taking the approach of ‘no pain no gain’ yet I have always questioned this approach. At this time of year, I believe one should be focussing on building the aerobic foundation to leverage in the coming months when the bodies systems can leverage off this large base.

When I talk to some of the most successful and healthy athletes around the world, most actually spend these preparatory months patiently building their aerobic base and working at heart rates of <75% of max. By developing the aerobic system first, they are getting faster and developing a more efficient aerobic system and network of mitochondria without the wear and tear – and injury – that often accompanies anaerobic training. Seiler underscores this in his paper that presents numerous gold medalists spending 80-85% of their training time at <75% of max.

Nothing new here, think of Emile Zatopek, the famous trainer Arthur Lydiard or the published and proven science from Sephen Seiler on training intensities and distribution, they all followed the same methodology. Perhaps in our digital age we have overlooked what has already been proven?

My thoughts today are, how to help my athletes to inform themselves, to challenge the no pain no gain dogma and investing in the aerobic base .

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