Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Pareto Principle

My training philosophy was always to train as less as possible to gain maximum fitness in order to reach my desired goal. I am very fond of this minimalistic approach. When I was training for Ironman Canada 2010, I logged less than 10 hours per week over the course of 20 weeks, however, neglecting swimming quite a bit. The core of my training plan was a Minimalist Marathon Training Program. This program consists of three key workouts per week, leaving the other days for recovery or cross training. My focus in 2010 was clearly to become a better (triathlon) runner and 90 % of my workouts were brick workouts of 1 - 1.5 hours hard cycling on my trainer followed by running a few fast mile repeats and then settling down into a longer goal pace run (everything on the track). Eventually, I ran up to 38 km on the track. Now, you probably think this guy is crazy, but I can tell you once you get used to it, you'll love track workouts. The benefit is that you can train without interruption and record progress very well due the to homogeneous conditions, which also keeps you motivated! Training on the track also allows you to bring as much fluids you need for the workout and you can nicely practice your race day nutrition.

So, coming back to the minimalist approach. The other day, I bought a training program from training4cyclists. It's called Time Effective Cycling Training and is written by Jesper Bondo Medhus. His ebook introduced me to the Pareto Principle (or the 80-20 rule), named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto and states that 80 % of the effects come from 20 % of the causes. So, since I am in the unlucky situation of not getting paid for swimming, biking and running, this principle is key for me to reach my goal of placing Top 5 in the age category M30-34 in Kona this year, and still be able to finish my PhD this summer and start a new job. For me this means I should avoid unnecessary time swimming, biking and running and focus on the 20 % (approximately) in each sport that actually make me faster, i.e. goal pace training, interval workouts, track running and indoor cycling. Although I intuitively applied this principle already before I actually heard about it, it's good to see it written out. On a final note however, I also have to say that every now and then training without any pace prescription turned out to be very beneficial for my overall performance, recovery and well-being.

Happy Training!


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