I’ve had a fellow coach / friend of mine in the States reach out on Facebook and ask me my opinion on a training article that was written and he sent me the link. And it’s with regards to winter based training and the myth of base training. Apparently, you know, it’s basically making a reference that you don’t need to do it, you can get a lot more with less work, do your VO2 Max and threshold work. Training slow makes you slow. Base training was never ever about improving fitness.

What the…. look.

This runs very contrary to what I think, how I train people, how I train myself. So, I’ll actually read my reply to him, I need my glasses on to do that.

“Hey, Champ. What I think is that training with base intensity (I’m not gonna stipulate exactly where that is) ‘exclusively’ might not be the best idea for performance, but it’s what I have a few of my guys doing right now just to top up the system and given the time of year. If you were to add only medium intensity, my medium, on top of this sort of work, and I’m not talking threshold work there, and that can make you fast, very fast, and with those that are aerobically challenged even faster, than with a classic threshold or above speed session each week.

Regardless, this medium work that I prescribe is still within aerobic limits and can contribute to building of your base, also know that once I’ve started getting a few runs of two hours in the legs of some of my athletes at basic endurance levels, their running can go through the roof. The base work helps you not only to not build up lactates at the top, so it gets you to clear lactates and more so not to accumulate it, but it improves your speed from underneath. It’s important too that your longer sessions are long enough…a 3h plus long ride, a 1h30m plus run.

But if there’s some tempo in there, aka the medium paced stuff, and nearer to the races you’re bringing in a bit of faster work, that’s even a better combination for top performance. So at low volume levels, in trying to be able race your best, I might get closer to agreeing with the point of view of the article, but to say it’s useless etc. I think it’s a crock of BS. My pros would probably even do 85-90% of their work at basic levels or even slower.

It consists of all their filler work, and much of what they do is even at what I call regeneration effort. Hope that helps”.

So, to me, this basic work is a foundation. It’s a support. It makes the higher end levels more effective.

You get a better response to it. You’ll run on a lower lactate level in your races.

And, you know, I see a lot of these pushed out today, ‘getting less from more’.

Yes I’m all for getting more from what you’re doing. But not to the point of just stripping things right back, it goes too far, and I think it’s just a terrible.

You know you see people that do suddenly drop volume, massively and go on these high- intensity programs and these ‘hormone boosting’ programs and shit that gets sold to people. And often they’ll go and have a good race or two or three within a short period, once they’ve made this change, but suddenly you find that they get more and more removed from this foundation that they had before, and then they wonder why the freakin’ hell they’re not going that well.

And that’s the answer. They get removed from the background that’s the foundation of top form, consistent forming, (and improving form). You’ve always got to maintain that element, and I think given the reductions in volume that people sometimes gravitate to along with increased proportions of intensity within a program, and sometimes that intensities that are very counter-productive level and erosional to aerobic development and aerobic thresholds.

But, you know, it’s counter-productive, it’s not the ticket at all, it’s just a big sell and an easy sell to people that want to hear all that stuff, and even some coaches out there, I’m not gonna name anyone, but…. coaches out there that are teaching this sort of system.

And I see them at the races running around in their team kit and putting performances on the board that to me given who they are just way below what they should be doing anyway, so honestly my question with that is, isn’t that reflective that you might need to change your approach a little bit?

Or that there is another way, or that this method isn’t really obviously working. Saying this method promotes endurance, and then they’re in their races, and they are going backwards in the run.

When if that endurance is all there, surely they should be holding up a lot better? Don’t mean to sound like a sceptic, but that’s my honest view.