Volume vs Intensity are two main questions asked by our athletes; which should I do when and how much of each makes sense.  As a general rule, increasing volume and intensity at the same time does not work and exposes the athlete to injury risk.

Race season is in full swing now so what is the appropriate volume and intensity mix in order to perform your best at the races and in particular your A race?

In line with the Specificity of Training principle, for the weeks leading up to your “A” race and as a general rule, volume and intensity should become more and more identical to your race pace intensity.  As your race draws near, you should be executing training at an intensity and volume that allows your body to create adaptation and muscle memory that it will experience during the race.  Of course there are individual considerations when applying this general rule such as the length of your race, your years of experience in your sport of choice, and your fitness level.

For example, if your “A” race is a marathon or long course triathlon (i.e. half ironman or longer) you’ll need to ensure your intensity volume is appropriate for your background and you do not for example go out and run 26.2 miles at race pace because that is the intensity you will be executing on race day.  Rather, physiological adaptations begin to occur in as little as 20-30 min of intensity therefore 2-3 repetitions of 20-30min at race intensity might be more appropriate for longer “A” race targets.

Another thing to consider is that swimming and biking take less toll on your body than running therefore swimming 2.4 miles at your projected Ironman race pace would be very appropriate for well conditioned athletes leading up to Ironman as would 4-5 hours on the bike at your projected Ironman race pace (operating under the assumption that you are in fact choosing the appropriate bike race pace for your ability).   Conversely, running up to a max of 1.5-2 hours at marathon race pace would most likely be the limit for most marathon runners who have been training competitively for 5 years or less and have been executing a run volume of 30-40 miles per week for at least 6 months.

Got questions about volume and intensity?  Ask away.