EPC Tips - Base Building

EPC Tips – Early Season Base Building

With January coming to an end in another week, most northern hemisphere athletes are polishing off their off-season training programs and transitioning into their early season base building programs.

As I discussed in a previous article (I. Aerobic Conditioning), it’s important for athletes not to fall into the trap of only long, slow, distance training during their base building phase of training. The goal during this pre-season time of training is to prepare the body for the demands of your Race Preparation phase of training that gets you into race fitness. You’ve hopefully come off your off-season training program with improved skills and general strength and conditioning, and now you’re ready to dig into the aerobic conditioning endurance athletes love to do.

For most endurance athletes this pre-season training should focus on sport specific strength and endurance along with appropriate amounts high intensity efforts to train speed and power over short, manageable distances.

The following session is a great one that can be easily adapted to a swim, bike or run sessions. The session targets both ends of the aerobic conditioning spectrum making it very time effective for athletes on a tight schedule. After a warm-up, you perform multiple sets of short, powerful intervals with adequate rest. You want to tap into some of your fastest speeds here, as they are broken up over very short repetitions, making the efforts achievable and not overly stressful. After the power sets, you transition to a strength set to develop sport specific strength and endurance.

The example that follows is for a run session intended to be done on a track near a hill.  You can also do this on a treadmill (by adjusting distance for time, and incline for hill) if a track and/or hill are not available.

5:00 Dynamic Warm-up exercises
5:00 Drill Progression (practice a specific drill you learned during the off season)
10:00 easy run
4:00 build to tempo effort
1:00 walk

Multiple Sets of the following:
4x[100m at 400m speed/pace, 300m easy jog]
800m easy run
Repeat 2-4 times

Run uphill for 5:00-15:00 at a moderate effort, with downhill recoveries
Repeat 2-3 times as desired to achieve 10:00-30:00 minutes of uphill running

5:00+ easy running
5:00 walk

Written by Cody Waite, professional XTERRA athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Check out EPC’s Personal Coaching, XTERRA Group Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options.

EPC Tips

EPC Tips – Aerobic Conditioning

Last week EPC coach Cody Waite discussed the 6 Components of Endurance Sport Success.

“If you missed it, I encourage you to read it to get an idea of what we’re referring to as the ‘6 Components’ and where we will be going with this concept,” sais Waite.

This week Waite expands more on the first component: Aerobic Conditioning.

When most athletes think of endurance sports training, aerobic conditioning is typically where the mind goes. Building up the endurance to go the distance is a primary objective for those athletes newer to endurance sports and/or those training for ultra-distance endurance events. But training to go long is not the only piece of the aerobic conditioning puzzle to complete your metabolic masterpiece.

Aerobic conditioning can be thought of as two distinct elements: endurance and speed.

I like to think of these two elements in these defining ways: endurance is the ability to maintain pace while speed is the ability to create pace. To be successful in endurance sports you need to maximize both endurance and speed through creative training strategies that address both segments in effective quantities. The shorter your goal event, the greater an emphasis on speed will be required, while the longer your goal event, the greater an emphasis on endurance will be required. However, regardless of the distance of events you are training for, you need to train both elements to maximize your aerobic conditioning and endurance racing success.

Picture aerobic conditioning as a sliding scale. On one end you have the shortest duration, highest intensity output, the ‘alactate’ burst of maximum speed; on the other end you have the ‘all day’ maximum endurance effort. In between these two extremes you have the classic physiological energy systems of anaerobic power (30-seconds to 2-minute max output), Vo2 max (3-minute to 7-minute output), lactate threshold (30-minute to 60-minute output), aerobic threshold (1-hour to 3-hour output) and aerobic endurance (extended output). Training all six of these ‘zones’ of intensity is critical for all endurance athletes, regardless of the event for which they’re training. Balancing the amount of each level of intensity and at what point in their training year it is emphasized is what makes up an endurance athlete’s aerobic conditioning training program.

Aerobic conditioning is highly trainable, although it can take many years to fully maximize in human physiology.

Every human is born with an innate capacity to process oxygen, known as maximum oxygen uptake or, simply, Vo2 max. The more oxygen an athlete can take in and supply to their working muscles, the faster and/or longer they can go. Vo2max is trainable to a certain extent, but everyone has their genetic ceiling of maximum uptake. One of the primary goals with aerobic conditioning is to maximize the sustainable percentage of their Vo2max they can reach in training and racing. Improving one’s ability to perform at the highest sustainable percentage of their Vo2max can be achieved by training any of the above mentioned energy systems, but is most effective by training all of the energy systems through an effective training program.

Training longer durations at lower intensities has many identified benefits such as increased mitochondria and capillary density to improve oxygen delivery, maximizing the use of slow twitch muscle fibers, improved fuel utilization and carbohydrate storage, and an increase in the volume of blood your heart can move with each beat. Long, slow distance training has been a staple of endurance sport training for years. For athletes that are coming to endurance sports from a ‘speed based’ background, are relatively young, healthy, have the time, and have lofty goals of racing performance, high volume training can help them succeed. Although as valuable as the benefits of low-intensity training are, you must have the time to put into this method as it requires increasingly higher and higher volumes to create the stimulus needed for improved fitness. Most amateur athletes with a job and family to balance with their training schedule usually can only find time for limited amounts of high volume training, leading us to consider how else can we improve our aerobic conditioning?

Training the short, powerful, high intensity energy systems happens to also have many identified benefits, and these can often be achieved with much lower training volumes. Benefits of high intensity training include increased oxygen utilization, improved lactate tolerance/utilization, maximizing the recruitment of both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers, increased hormone production, reduced insulin dependency, and improved mechanical/movement efficiency. The benefits of high intensity training cannot be ignored, nor should the high intensity training in your training program. High intensity training definitely has its place in the endurance sport training program, with the amount and timing of it being a key part of the metabolic puzzle.

Every individual has their own genetically given strengths; some athletes are more powerful and faster over short distances, while others are built for the long haul and can maintain moderate outputs for extended periods of time. To maximize your endurance sports performance you must identify your strengths and weaknesses and then create a training program that will improve your weaknesses while maximizing your strengths. Put simply, by improving your short-term high intensity energy systems you can go faster for longer, and by improving your long-term low intensity energy systems you can extend your speed over longer periods. These opposing ends of the physiological energy system scale should come together at some point inline with your targeted race-day intensity level you plan to predominantly utilize during your goal events.

Regardless of your strengths and weaknesses, your objective should be to create your own aerobic training program to give you the right amount of training stress to minimize fatigue and maximize performance.

The goal within your training program should be to apply just the right amount of low intensity and high intensity training to create the perfect amount of stimulus for your body to adapt to. Too much stimulus (often the case with endurance athletes) and you get tired, sick or injured; not enough stimulus and you fail to continue improving and don’t reach your fullest potential. You also have to keep in mind when designing your training schedule that  your ‘training stress’ is just one part of the equation. You must also consider your ‘life stress’ when determining your overall training load. Those with busy lives, stressful jobs, and families typically cannot maintain as high a training load as say someone with minimal commitments, financial stress, and family obligations. Stress is stress, regardless if it is physical or mental stress. It affects how you think, feel, perform and recover. Mixing the right amount of training stress (intensity and volume) and life stress (job, family, finances) into an individual’s training program is the secret to maximizing aerobic fitness and is unique to every athlete.

Written by Cody Waite, professional XTERRA athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Check out EPC’s Personal Coaching, XTERRA Group Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options.

EPC Tips - Power Run

EPC Tips – Six Components to Endurance Sports Success

XTERRA Pro and Endurance Performance Coach Cody Waite is back in 2015 to deliver a wealth of training tips and workouts for the Tribe. Cody is kick-starting the season with an overview of the “six components to endurance sports success” and will elaborate on each in the weeks to come. Be sure to check out EPC’s XTERRA specific Group CoachingPersonal Coaching and Custom Training Plan options Cody has created to fit every athletes needs and budget…

Welcome all XTERRA athletes from around the globe to 2015! It’s time to start thinking seriously about your training program and getting yourself ready for the XTERRA race season ahead. My previous article “Welcome to the Off Season” discussed some strategies for making good use of your training time in between racing seasons. With the new year upon us, we must begin to concentrate our efforts on becoming the best prepared athletes we can be before our priority events.

There are many factors that go into preparing yourself for racing endurance events like XTERRA triathlons. Through our years of coaching endurance sports athletes, I have identified six key components that lead to endurance sports’ success. In the follow paragraphs, I’ll briefly touch on each of them, get you thinking, and help you get on the right track to XTERRA racing success. In the coming weeks I’ll dig a little deeper into each component and provide helpful information you can choose to integrate into your own training program. Hopefully, the following concepts will help you improve and allow you to reach your fullest potential throughout your entire XTERRA racing season. I’ll see you at the races!

Six Components to Endurance Sport Success

It’s common thought that to become a better endurance athlete you simply need to go longer and harder in your training to be successful.

Many athletes are familiar with the 10,000 hour rule which states that it requires 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to obtain elite level proficiency in your sport. In many ways this concept holds true; you need to put in the time for your body to adapt and to learn the skills and movements required to perform at a high level of sport. However, there is likely more to the equation of improvement in endurance sports. In fact, what we have found is that success in endurance sports hinges on several different factors. Through working with hundreds of different athletes coming from all shapes and sizes of background in sport, we have learned that there are six essential components required to maximize endurance sport development.

You certainly can and do become a better endurance athlete simply by doing more of what you are striving to improve; more hours on the bike, more miles on the run, and more yardage in the pool. Assuming you have the time and luxury to spend 5+ hours a day on the bike,  much like I did for 6 years in my late teens and early twenties while pursuing a professional cycling career, you will become a highly competent cyclist allowing you to compete at a very high level. There’s no question that if you put in the time, you will improve. But is this high volume, single-focused training approach the right way to maximize performance? Maybe, maybe not. Is it the only way to maximize performance? Definitely not.

What is the ‘right’ way or ‘best’ way to improve as an endurance athlete?

There are many theories, however most physiologists and coaches will agree that the best answer is, “It depends.” It depends on who the athlete is. How old is the athlete, what is the athlete’s background in sport, what is the athlete’s lifestyle, do they have a job, do they have a family, do they have the time, energy and physical capacity to allow them to train 30+ hours a week, week in and week out? If you’re a 20-something year old, athletic individual with minimal life stress and plenty of financial backing then it’s time to put in the big volume. However, if you’re over thirty, have to make money to support yourself and/or your family, and are a less than perfect physical specimen, then simply going longer and doing more of the same is not the best path to follow to reach your fullest potential.

So how is the aspiring endurance athlete going to maximize improvement when spending endless hours cranking out the miles is not an option? We have found over the years that all athletes must make endurance sport a lifestyle, much like a professional, focusing on both the large and the small components of fitness to build the best possible athlete they can be. We have identified six key components that are crucial to endurance sports success, and they can all be implemented regardless of their experience level or the amount of time the athlete has to devote to their sport. By learning, incorporating and striving to always improve upon these six key components of fitness, an athlete will be better able to reach their fullest potential.

The Six Components to Endurance Sports Success

– Aerobic Conditioning
– Muscular Stability
– Skill Proficiency
– Optimal Nutrition
– Recovery Management
– Mental Strength

The first three components, aerobic conditioning, muscular stability, and skill proficiency, make up the physical “training” an athlete with do. Aerobic conditioning can be achieved by not only spending more time performing their sport, but also through various modalities of cross-training during specific times of the year. Training endurance by going longer at times, as well as incorporating moderate and high intensity interval training, at and above an athlete’s aerobic and anaerobic thresholds at specific points in their training year, will improve their aerobic conditioning. Muscular stability involves a combination of both strength and mobility. Incorporating stability training in an athletes year round program can improve an athlete’s muscular strength and flexibility, range of motion of joints, application of force, and overall durability. Improper joint mobility and/or joint stability limits nearly every athlete in some manner. Improving these characteristics through proper strength training modalities, an athlete will become more efficient and able to use more of their given maximal aerobic capacity. Developing the skills to move the body in the most efficient manner is critical to maximizing both speed and endurance. Wasted energy through improper movements not only slows you down but wastes valuable energy, limiting your performance. By incorporating drills into an athlete’s training program throughout the year, they will again achieve a higher usage of their given maximal aerobic capacity.

The last three key components, optimal nutrition, recovery management, and mental strength are the efforts made in between the actual ‘training’ sessions. These details require as much or more effort to incorporate into an athlete’s routine, but they can also often yield some of the biggest results. Most athletes are aware of the importance of nutrition but few actually take it seriously for any length of time. Through optimal nutrition you not only perform better on race day, but you are also able to achieve optimal body composition for improved performance, optimal energy levels to improve training capacity, and optimal hormone operation within the body to improve health and recovery. Managing recovery between training sessions is critical to maximize your training consistency and adaptation. Learning and incorporating proper recovery methods and modalities will allow you to train more frequently and get more from each training session. Finally, perhaps the most neglected and overlooked component of success in sport is the power of the mind. Getting yourself in the right mindset to train to your fullest potential and race to maximum ability is one of the toughest things for athletes to learn. It is subsequently also one of the most important abilities for athletes to transform themselves into champions. Practicing mental strategies and learning how to train and compete to your true ability will unlock the complete athlete within you.

To become the best athlete you can become and reach your fullest potential in the least amount of time possible, you must address these six crucial components of fitness development: aerobic conditioning, muscular stability, skill proficiency, optimal nutrition, recovery management, and mental strength. When any one of these components is neglected or underdeveloped, an athlete will fall short of their maximum ability. By incorporating these components into your training lifestyle you will be able to consistently improve your performance year after year. Don’t fall into the trap that

there is only one path to improvement, doing the same thing over and over. Rather, choose to expand your vision and athletic ability by addressing these six components of fitness to allow yourself to continually evolve and improve as an endurance athlete.

The Off-Season

EPC Tips – Welcome to The Off Season

With 2014 winding down and coming to a close this month, now is that time narrow-focused endurance athletes begin to look towards not only the new year but the new racing season that lies ahead. Most endurance athletes (in the northern hemisphere, anyway) have brought their competitive racing season to a close in the previous weeks/months and have been enjoying some downtime coupled perhaps with some cross-training and/or easier aerobic training/fun as they settle into the off season.

The term “off season is often misunderstood and misused in training talk.

The off season is not a time to take off from training, but rather the time you take off from racing. You have your racing season and your non-racing season, or off season, as it’s commonly referred to. With the pressure of being in top racing shape removed, you can now focus on a consistent training program without being interrupted by racing and recovering. Now is the time you can focus on your weaknesses and train to improve yourself as an endurance athlete.

Regarding how you should train during the off season, there are countless numbers of different training philosophies out there from which to choose. What I’ve found to work well for most athletes, regardless of chosen training methodology, is to train progressively from ‘least race specific’ to ‘most race specific’ as you build up to your key events. Put simply, this means the further out you are from your priority events the less event specific your training can be; and as you move closer to your A-race your training becomes more specific to the fitness requirements called for on race day.

Triathlon, regardless of distance, is an aerobic sport. As we near race day we want to achieve the best possible aerobic conditioning in order to race to the best possible result.

When we are months away from competitive racing, we can train far from the aerobic end of training and focus more of our efforts on technique, strength, speed and power.

These often neglected areas of fitness development will improve our movement efficiency allowing us to utilize more of our given aerobic capacity as we transition to larger aerobic training volumes. This equates to faster maintainable aerobic training paces over greater distances as you build towards your priority events.

This training approach goes against much of the traditional off season ‘base training’ methods that endurance athletes may be familiar with: the long, slow distance theory of off season training to build the aerobic system prior to sharpening up with high intensity training as you build towards your key events. Many current physiologists and top coaches from around the world are now beginning to agree that this classic method, created by the ‘strength/power sports’ community (ie. weight lifting), to be flawed for endurance sports.

The new school thought is to train first from the less race specific, higher intensity strength, speed, and power, then adding the race specific aerobic volume as you near your goal races.

When you view it from this angle you can see why the classic periodization model (low intensity/high volume followed by high intensity/low volume as your peak events neared) was successful for sports like weight lifting, track running, short and middle distance swimming, and other strength, speed, power dominant sports.

Here we are at the end of the year, and it’s time to first dial in your racing schedule for the new year ahead. Once you have that in hand it’s time to figure out your training program, either on your own, with the help of others, or with your coach so you can make the most of this off season. Be better prepared for the racing season ahead with an effective off season training program that emphasizes technique, strength, speed and power and save the long slow (or not so slow) distance efforts for later. It takes less time, can be highly effective performed indoors as daylight disappears and cold weather sets in, and it’s something different for you to experiment with which will all likely lead to improved fitness and fun.

After all, a smart friend of mine says, “ Training is just an adult form of play.”

Have fun!

Written by Cody Waite, professional XTERRA athlete, endurance sport coach and founder of Endurance Performance Coaching. Looking for help with your training for 2015? Check out EPC’s Personal CoachingGroup Coaching, and Custom Training Plan options created to fit your needs and budget.  www.epcmultisport.com

Run Jump

EPC Tips – Bike – Run Workout Before Your Big Race

Ready for race day with this bike-run workout the week before your big race…

Taper time is about resting and recovering, while maintaining your feel and sharpness necessary for a peak performance. Try this session about a week out from your A-priority race to maintain your race-day energy systems, while not being too fatiguing. It’s best to do the session on the bike you’ll race on and terrain similar to what you’ll experience on race day.


  • 30:00 easy to moderate
  • 2-3x[10:00 race pace effort/power + 5:00 easy]
  • transition to run below


  • off the bike…
  • 3-4x[5:00 race pace effort + 2:30 easy jog]
  • 10:00 easy

The ‘Workouts of the Week’ are brought to you by coach, Cody Waite. Racing XTERRA USA and/or World Championships this Fall? Then checkout our XTERRA Championship specific Group Coaching Program for a complete XTERRA specific program leading up to the BIG races!

EPC Tips - Power Run

EPC Tips – Polish Off Your Run Power

Polish off your run power with this great session as you head towards your season finale event…

There is a reason running hill repeats are a staple in most training programs; they build strength, power and economy. And if your goal race has any hills in it, then you’ll be better prepared for it with hill repeats. The main set of this session incorporates fast running on both hills and flats. On the first set of hills you want to run them hard and jog back down the hill each time for recovery. On the second set of hills you want to attack them with everything you’ve got! Sprint these hills as hard as you can and then walk back down the hill for recovery. The flat fast running following each of the hill segments should be run at your race pace effort (tempo/threshold). When all said and done this adds up to a hefty chunk of effort so make sure you’re rested and ready for this session.

WARM-UP: 5:00 Dynamic Warm-Up
5-15:00 easy run
4x[0:15 strides, 0:45 walk]
1:00 walk

MAIN SET: 5-6x[1:30 UPHILL hard run, jog down recovery]
1x[5:00 FLAT fast run]
3:00 walk
5-6x[0:30 UPHILL all-out run, walk down recovery]
1x[5:00 FLAT fast run]

WARM-DOWN: 2:00 walk
5-10:00 easy run
3:00 walk

(45-75 minutes total workout time)

The ‘Workouts of the Week’ are brought to you by coach, Cody Waite. You can find this workout, and others like it for the swim, bike and run, by joining his Group Coaching programs for 2014.

EPC Tips Big Gear Bike Intervals

EPC Tips – Big Gear Bike Intervals

Build more strength on the bike with this set of big gear intervals…

Including big gear work on the bike late in the season helps ‘bike proof’ your legs so you can get off the bike and still run well after a solid bike split. This particular workout was written to be performed on the stationary trainer, but can be easily adapted to the road (or dirt) if you have some longer hills available in your area. The goal with big gear interval work is to create a moderate to large amount of pedaling resistance (force) by using hills/resistance and gear selection. Proper gear selection should get you in to the 50-60 rpm range for the intervals. Alternate seated and standing positions within the session to train different muscles. If you’re new to strength work on the bike, start with shorter intervals and higher cadences to allow your body to adapt to the added stress.


  • 10:00 easy gear spin
  • additional aerobic riding as desired
  • 5:00 progressive build towards threshold power


  • 2x[10:00 big gear, low cadence climbing (2-3 min rec)(alternate seated & standing)]
  • short rest
  • 10:00 easy gear spin (ride downhill?)
  • short rest
  • 2x[10:00 big gear, low cadence climbing (2-3 min rec)(alternate seated & standing)]


  • 10:00 easy gear spin
  • extra easy riding as desired

(75+ minutes total workout time)

The ‘Workouts of the Week’ are brought to you by coach, Cody Waite. Racing XTERRA USA and/or World Championships this Fall? Then checkout our XTERRA Championship specific Group Coaching Program for a complete XTERRA specific program leading up to the BIG races!

Utah Transition

EPC Tips – Day Before Race Prep

This week’s workout is an example of what to do the day before a race…

You’ve trained hard for weeks, recovered, tapered and now just about ready to race! What’s a triathlete to do the day before a race? There are different schools of thought about tapering and what to do in the week(s) before a race depending on several key factors: including the event you’re racing and your personal training volume and intensity, among others; but the last couple days before race day are pretty universal among most coaches. Two days out is perfect for a day off, and the day before a “tune-up” or “opener” workout is pretty standard to get the body and mind ready to race. The general idea is to rid yourself of any lingering fatigue that might be left after your taper and to allow for a full “top-off” of your glycogen stores with the full rest day, two days before.  Then the “race prep” session the day before the race “opens up the system” by getting the blood pumping a bit with some short fast efforts to ready yourself for your race day effort and rid yourself of any “post-rest day lethargy” that may have occurred.

The following is a typical “Race Prep” session I prescribe to my athletes the day before a race, ideally performed at the race venue.  You may find you need to modify a bit to suit your needs, race venue logistics, or travel schedule. Good luck on race day!

SWIM (20:00)
5:00 easy warm-up
4:00 building to race pace, 1:00 rest
4x[0:30 hard, 0:30 easy], 1:00 rest
5:00 easy warm-down

BIKE (40:00)
10:00 easy warm-up
5:00 building to race pace
5:00 easy
4x[1:00 hard, 2:00 easy]
8:00 easy

RUN (15:00)
5:00 dynamic warm-up drills
5x[0:20 strides, 0:40 walk]
5:00 walk/dynamic drills

The ‘Workouts of the Week’ are brought to you by coach, Cody Waite. You can find this workout, and others like it for the swim, bike and run, by joining his Group Coaching programs for 2014.

EPC Swim Speed

EPC Tips – Hone Your Speed in the Pool

Hone your speed in the pool to prepare for race day starts with this swim session…

With the majority of the training focus in the later part of the season on ‘race pace’ efforts, be sure to include small amounts of speed work to maintain the top-end. This swim does just that with some fast 50’s on a lot of rest in the main set.

300-600 easy, mixed stroke
4-8x 50 kick w/o fins (25 fast/25 easy)
4-6x 50 (25 skull/25 swim fast)

6-8x 50 @ FAST!, 0:30 rests
4x 50 one arm swim drill (25 right/25 left)
4-6x 50 @ FASTER!!, 1:00 rests
4x 50 one arm swim drill (25 right/25 left)
2-4x 50 @ FASTEST!!!, 1:30 rests
100 easy

4-8x 100 pull, moderate, :15 rests

100-200 easy, choice

The ‘Workouts of the Week’ are brought to you by coach, Cody Waite. Racing XTERRA USA and/or World Championships this Fall? Then checkout our XTERRA Championship specific Group Coaching Program for a complete XTERRA specific program leading up to the BIG races!