If you have been following me for a while, you know that I’m not a fan of volume (wasn’t always the case… I was head over heals in love with cranking out the volume but that all changed). Excessive amounts of aerobic load ¬†does nothing other than break your body down.

I’m always pushing myself to refine overall plans to get the most bang for your training dollar. Now as a new father, this is even more important as time is such a valuable resource.

So lower volume plans with good doses of intensity, smartly spread across different systems that are followed with disciplined consistency is how you get good with the low volume approach and keep your body healthy.

The question then becomes, can we ever do any volume?

Hell Yes

Volume still has it’s benefits and Ironman is afterall an aerobic sport that demands some specificity. But this is where I like to turn the traditional approach on its head and do the specific volume in the latter stages (6-8 weeks out) of an Ironman prep. When done this way, your body is more primed to handle the load from a better foundation. What’s even better, is you’ll be completing these sessions at a much faster pace. This is where performance is gained. Going faster for the same perceived effort equals awesome.

The Volume Block

There is another time I like to also do volume and that is in a camp situation, where you do not have to think about anything else other than training, eating and recovery. You can really increase your yearly performances when you do some yearly training this way. I recommend anywhere between 1-3 weeks worth per year is enough and it is best coupled together- but there are some important caveats.

– Its got to be FUN.

– You should have a decent level of fitness beforehand.

– The intensity has to be easy to moderate (the only time to push is the back end of sessions to help you recruit dormant muscle fibres and overcome set motor patterns). This also develops mental strength.

– You need to be super diligent on nutrition, hydration and regeneration techniques like sleep, self massage.

That’s it. Superior triathlon performances can be gained when we get a low overall intensity block of yearly volume done that is far enough out from our important race and then some specific volume with specific intensity in the last 6-8 weeks before your goal race.

So if I look at my year going forward. I have one major goal race for 2011 and that is Xterra World Champs in October where I want to podium in my AG. Not an easy task, but an experience worth chasing. My next major goal is IM NZ in 2012 and by adding a couple of phases of specific volume, I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

At our luxury camp in Bali, the only real volume was on the bike- the campers did 3 rides (Wed, Fri, Sat) covering just over 350k with ~ 80+km of that being sustained climbing. We only did one time trial and that was at the back end of the Friday 122km ride after riding 85k with a 25km climb. I got a little more riding volume in as I did a camp recon ride (more climbing and another 100k) and one 60′ trainer set. The overall intensity was pretty low.

I’ll be adding in one more phase of FUN volume after Xterra WC and before the New Year on an Epic unsupported 8 days of mountain biking in South Africa. I’m really excited about being on that trip… but until then it’s back to rolling out a smartly structured 12 hour training week refined to my current life circumstance.