Other peoples workouts

The Internet’s a funny thing.  It offers vast amounts of data, opinions and educational reference points.  While at the same time that vastness in information can be overwhelming.  It can lead you to change your mind a multitude of times on a given subject.

One such area is your training plan.

Given that you read my blog, I suspect you probably read others as well.  They may be professional athletes, forum posters, coaches, fitness guru’s, doctors, or just simply regular people like you and I that happen to enjoy the sport.  And reading others content is a good thing – it’s great to read about what other folks are doing so you can potentially learn from it.

The challenge is that the posts and stories that you read on a day to day basis don’t always tell the whole story.  And even if they do – it doesn’t mean that following it is the best course of action for you and your training plan or goals.

The reality is that most people tend to only post the ‘big number’ workouts.  These are the 100+ mile rides or the 20+ mile runs, or the 7,000y pool swim.  Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.  Obviously many more things happen on my 100+ mile bike ride on Skyline drive with Yogi and Bambi than occur on a 55 minute Z2 trainer ride downstairs in front of a TV.  So logically, there’s more to talk/post about.

The problem though with immersing yourself in a sea of posts/articles/forums about such workouts is that you don’t necessarily see what the rest of the week or training block looked like.  And typically, the rest of ones training is more mundane.

For example, let’s take a look at last week for me.  Just the nearest week I had on my schedule (zoom to view better):


(Note: The gray metrics are manually entered, and the time displayed is when I entered them, not when they occurred – though if I was less lazy I could modify that.  The Crosstrain on the 10th is my transition practice.)

As you can see, I’ve got four swims – none of which are terribly long by most standards.  But all of which are nearly 100% focused on rebuilding my stroke…very slowly.  That’s not exciting.  It’s not a big number in yards, nor is it some painful sounding descending 20×100 type workout.  But it is reality.  The reality being that if I don’t keep working slowly on my form, then swimming that 20×100 workout hard isn’t really going to net me much in terms of speed.

If we look at the run we’d see that actually both Tuesday and Thursday’s runs are fairly difficult interval efforts.  Not terribly long mileage last week, but certainly heavy intensity.  Especially considering that on Tuesday I’m doing it straight off the bike.

However, that five mile run on Friday is about as mundane as they get.  I was running mid-Z2 HR until the Garmin struck 5 miles.  And while that sounds mindless, the underlying purpose of the workout was increasing running efficiency through cadence pyramids I was doing.  Not exactly something super-exciting I would typically blog about, but something key to increasing my running economy.

As you can see from above – sometimes the reality is less exciting.  And sometimes less daunting sounding.

And that’s what’s important here.  As part of either developing your own training schedule or adopting a pre-created one – you have to feel confident and stick with it, despite constant worry about reading ‘someone else’s big numbers’. 

It would have been easy to simply look at that 5 mile run and go “Oh, I could do that far faster and far longer…and it would be better!”, simply because I saw someone post how the just finished up a 10 mile tempo run.

But that wouldn’t have been more beneficial.  With a 54 mile bike ride the next day and then a 4 mile run off the bike, killing my legs the day before only would have sacrificed the bike ride.  And from a weekly training standpoint – that bike ride is actually at the moment my most important workout of the week.  Recovery days and easy days are equally as important as work days.  You build muscle fibers on recovery days, not the work days when you actually tear them.

My point being, as you read content day in and day out across the Internet remember to focus on your training plan and your goals.  Learn from others as it makes sense, but don’t make last minute changes to your plan simply because you saw it somewhere else.


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  1. Thanks for the good post! I think exactly the same can be said for choise of nutrition and clothing beeing changed either day before or the last few hours before race as well.

  2. I enjoyed this post. I really struggle with recovery and slower workouts . . . I always feel like I could do them faster and benefit more. Time, however, is teaching me (slowly, as I’m not always a quick study) that I need to recover in order ultimately to perform my best.

    Happy training.


  3. great post Ray!

    your resting heart rate is a thing of envy. 44 beats!?!?

  4. Great timing of this post! As I get closer and closer to IM Boise, that pesky doubt can tend to creep in and I have to remind myself that I need to focus on my goals, not other people’s (especially those with a resting heart rate of 44! :)

    Thanks for the dose of reality!

  5. Thank you for this post and all the others. That said, how can you put that chart up there without at least some comment on the sleep time.? You went to bed at 3:30 on Thursday and slept for 7 hours for a 10:30pm wake up? Bed at 6pm Friday and Saturday? Are those times wrong for some reason?

  6. Mark J.

    Hey Ray-

    I’m curious. You swim, bike, and run (obviously). What was that 1.1 mile cross train? Did you walk on your hands?

    And how the #$#$%& do you get that much sleep?? So jealous I can’t even tell you…

    -Mark in Dallas

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I know to do what it is best for me and my body… even when I do look at others training plans on their blogs!

  9. Amen brother, amen…

  10. What program do you use for your training plans?

    Just found your blog the other day – quite enjoying it, thanks!

  11. Great post man. I wrote something very similar the other day on my blog. You can’t compare because everyone is different. I had a rough today and didn’t workout… which really bugs me but I try to stay away from the workouts that everyone else posts. Glad you wrote this.

    Good luck at Rummmmpus!

  12. Thanks all!


    The times listed for ‘metrics’ (grey ones) are when I entered them, not when they occured. I could modify it…but I’m lazy. I wish I could sleep until 3PM!


    The 1.1 mile was transition practice, just loops of a parking lot.

    As for the sleep, mine varies quite a bit from 5-6 hours some nights to 9 on weekdays. On the weekend I’ll usually get one day where I can sleep in (more than 9 hours). :)


    I have a coach that puts together all my training plans, here’s a bit more detail:
    link to dcrainmaker.com

    Thanks all again for the comments!

  13. I am in total agreement with everything you’ve said. In fact, I was just thinking yesterday about writing a similar post. I find it hard to avoid comparing myself to others (not in terms of time/speed, but in terms of volume) and thinking that I should be doing more. It’s always good to be reminded that we should stick to our own plans!

  14. simon

    Great post and all so true. As my coach says “no single workout is more important than the block”

  15. Rachel

    Hi Ray – what are cadence pyramids to improve running efficiency? Cheers, Rachel

    • Cadence pyramids are designed around increasing run turnover and efficiency.

      Typically I do 20-seconds at a given level, then 40 seconds easy jog, and then increase up a pyradmid, i.e.:

      90 SPM @ 20s (SPM = Steps per minute, one leg)
      95 SPM @20s

      To match or measure, it’s best to get a little metronome or a watch that will show you cadence.