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Training is soul crushing. I avoid it like a hot-tub norovirus. The problem with choosing recreation over training, though, is that the body adapts to routine stress exercise and quickly finds homeostasis. Your fitness flatlines. To get fast, most coaches will tell you, one must embrace a periodized plan of polarization, meaning a schedule the periodized part in which an athlete mixes high-volume work at low intensity and high-intensity work at low volume polarization to hit peak form on race day.

A polarized week might involve two extended weekend rides at a steady pace, plus two to three high-intensity midweek workouts.


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Luckily, though, there is another way to ramp up your fitness for an endurance event. Which happen to be the things that give me cycling joy.

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If I could somehow make that work in a periodized schedule, there was hope that I could get faster without boring myself into a roadside ditch or kicking myself for my half-assed attempts at intervals. Sweet spot training dates back to , when Frank Overton, of Boulder, Colorado—based FasCat Coaching , was just breaking into the business. As an early test, Overton worked with famed exercise physiologist Andy Coggan to graph a few months of power meter data from Overton and a dozen other athletes.

Coggan drew a circle on the graph: the sweet spot. Intrigued, Overton built himself a periodization schedule heavy on moderately hard riding backed by attainable threshold intervals those sustained efforts just beyond the sweet spot curve and promptly earned his best placement ever at the Colorado State Time Trial Championships. In the years since, Overton has incorporated sweet spot training into thousands of personalized plans and web-based programs for pro and recreational athletes with similar success.


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  7. You still bake in the rest days and recovery blocks of a periodized plan, but the activity better emulates what most workaday athletes do for fun and with time commitments that are attainable. So I set out to see if it could work for me, too. Late last summer, with no direction, I started incorporating my own interpretation of sweet spot training into my ride schedule. For me that meant that on weekends, instead of riding for six hours with my heart rate around , I went out and climbed for three hours with my heart rate at I did this for about five weeks; by September, I was riding noticeably faster.

    It would culminate with me racing the Firecracker 50 in Breckenridge, Colorado. Photo: Liam Doran. My six-week plan included eight to 12 hours a week of riding —as opposed to training—with one big week where I bumped up to 16 hours. I typically ride eight to 12 hours a week anyway. We also need to be more aware of non-urgent signals, which are harder to see but still need our attention, like fear, doubt, or frustration.

    How high-altitude training can benefit elite endurance athletes like runners and swimmers

    Based on the research of Barbara Fredrickson, John Gottman, and Marcial Losada, performers need between positive emotions for every negative emotion in order to continue to thrive. Creating positive emotions is critical, but we also need to manage the negative emotions as well. Baltzell identified three options to work through or with our negative emotions.

    Step one is to recognize potential problems and act if necessary, this could mean we might need to take some time off or make a significant change.

    Mark Allen: How to Find Your Mental Sweet Spot

    If the problem does not require a big change, step two is to shift the negative emotional state to a more positive one. Here we might reframe our reactions towards a more positive direction. For example, we can choose to see pressure as an opportunity and get excited instead of label the feeling as fear. When we are not in danger and our emotional system is over-reacting, learning to accept, tolerate, and carry on are highly important skills. During such times, we must learn to minimize the impact of such negative emotions so we can focus on what will ultimately help us perform to the best of our abilities.

    Top athletes and performers know they have the resources to accept and work with negative emotions during their training and competitions. They are ready for anything and know that they will still be able to execute. Show more Show less. New New. No ratings or reviews yet. Best-selling in Non-Fiction Books See all.

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