This post is a follow up to the release of the Endurance Nation Long Course Triathlon Training Manual, a free online resource for triathletes that reveals Endurance Nation’s unique training protocols.
Learn more about The Book here.
With the release of The Book early this week, we have received a great deal of input and feedback from our members and the general triathlon feedback. The majority of this feedback has been positive, with several folks providing insightful suggestions on how we can improve things for the next release (no date scheduled, we need a break!). But a common theme has emerged; a single question that seems to dominate the emails: ‘What is the OUT season?”
* No, it’s not a typo.
* No, it’s not some marketing gimmick.
* No, we won’t change it for you.
* Yes, you should actively participate in the 2008 OUT season.
On the surface, the “OUT Season” is a re-branding of the traditional Off Season that is part of common triathlon vocabulary. That’s right — we want to change the way you think about your season, and we are waging an all-out war against the old-school training paradigm (base 1, base 2, base 3, build 1, build 2, peak, race).
Inside Endurance Nation, there is nothing “off” about the OUT Season. You are still training; only now it’s with an eye towards improved performance (improved Functional Threshold Power, or FTP, on the bike and Functional Threshold Pace on the run). Very simply, we focus on improving the speed they can ride a bike or run at for about an hour.
This is an incredibly free time of year. You have no races scheduled and therefore have minimal volume goals. We leverage this freedom by attacking the fitness that matters: your power and pace at threshold.
Let’s make a comparison between the traditional Off Season (Steady Sam) and our OUT Season (Hannah Hammer). Sam does lots of aerobic work. He might pick a road race to train for (typically a marathon — more aerobic miles), or he might think he’s earning extra credit points by adding technique work. You’ll see Sam on a cold winter day, bundled up on a fixed gear spinning around town at 18mph dodging ice patches. At the end of 3-5 months, Sam hasn’t really lost any fitness, but he hasn’t made any gains either.
Contrast Sam with Hannah the Hammer. She takes 2-4 weeks totally off at the end of her year to recharge. She’s not worried as she knows the OUT Season brings plenty of work. She begins her OUT Season by benchmarking her bike and run fitness with TT efforts, and then starts her 16-week training plan. The plan has her working out 6 to 8 hours a week on the bike and run, with no swim workouts. Hannah doesn’t sweat the swim b/c when the OUT season ends, she’ll have 30 weeks (!) to improve her swimming — no sense in swimming at 5am in December for a race in July! The bike and run workouts are interval heavy and focus specifically on boosting her power and pace at threshold. No single workout is longer than 90′, with most in the 40′ to 60′ range. All workouts are listed as main set only, so Hannah can do her 3 x 8′ @ FTP, or Zone 4-5, with 4′ recoveries on the trainer and be done with her workout in 36′ if necessary.
When Hannah emerges from her Pain Cave at the end of 16 weeks, she has built some serious high-end fitness. Her 10k time has dropped by 2 mins 30 seconds, her power on the bike has increased by 15% (actual results from 2008 program!). Sam isn’t any less fit, but he isn’t any more fit either. Now that the weather’s nice, they want to ride together, but Hannah keeps pulling away. Sam’s not sure what’s up, as he logged 500 miles outside in zone 1 on his fixie…too bad he didn’t do the work that actually mattered.
As you can see, we call it the “OUT Season” as our folks still train. In fact, it’s some of the most intense training of their year. We work on getting fast when there’s plenty of time to recover and minimal conflict with races that require us to have volume goals. If you are interested in getting faster the smart way, aren’t sure what to do this winter, be sure to check out our 16-week training plans
— I promise you won’t be disappointed!