Train Smarter. Sounds good.

Marcel Laponder doesn’t have a degree of any kind, just a self-professed, ‘immense interest in Sport Science’. And, that’s what his blog ‘train-smarter.blogspot.com’ is about – challenging and questioning, not just the dominant pedagogical training paradigms we all know and love, but also the ever-immerging fringe theories.

Personally, I am always looking to find ways to train ‘smarter’, which to me means, training for better results in, yes, less time. I’m not looking for the magic bullet, or a cheat exactly – I like to work for my gains. The work (training) is part of the fun. But, I do want to know that I’m not wasting my time, logging ‘junk miles’ when I’m trying to get fitter and faster in the fixed amount of time I have to train.

On that note of getting fitter and faster, I recently read Chris Carmichael’s book, ‘The Time Crunched Cyclist’.  This post isn’t about that book, but I do want to bring it up because, in a nutshell, it offers exactly what an amateur cyclist like me, is looking for – the opportunity of increased fitness and speed, in less time, replacing the traditional long sustained distance (LSD) hours on the bike for shorter, much more intense training sessions. This is a break-away training concept on its own, and after reading the book, it made tons of sense to me. What more could a married guy and father of a 4 ½ month old baby, who works fulltime ask for? I think the book is for sure worth a read.

BUT, now I digress. Back to Marcel’s blog, which my pal Sarns sent me a link to, suggesting I should read up on something called LBP (lactate balance point) and the work FaCT Canada has been doing. Without getting mired in the details for this post (I’ll let you delve into the research and in-depth docs yourself) here is a top-level run down of what I’ve gleaned as the 5 core beliefs that make up FaCT’s LBP theory:

  1. There are 3 trainable systems in the body: heart, lungs, and muscles.
  2. In each of us, FaCT refers to these systems as MCL (maintainer, compensator, limiter)
  3. One of these systems will always be our ‘weak link’, or ‘limiter’.  You can only work as hard (go as fast) as your ‘limiter’ system will allow, even if you overload it by forcing your other, stronger systems (‘maintainer’ and ‘compensator’) to compensate. So, in order to get faster, you need to know which of the 3 systems is your limiter, so you can spend time focusing on it and strengthen it.
  4. The weakest link, whichever system it is, will reach its weakest state at what FaCT calls your LBP (lactate balance point), aka LT.
  5. Training above LBP will not provide gains to your ‘limiter’ system, only to your ‘maintainer’ and ‘compensator’ systems. Constantly overloading your ‘limiter’ can even result in a reduction in its performance capability, lowering your overall performance.

So, if you want to train effectively as you can, FaCT suggests focusing on your ‘limiter’ system MOST of the time. This theory, like Carmichael’s, also seems to make sense to me. And, according to Sarns, more and more top-level athletes are moving to this kind of training, including notable Canadians like Geoff Kabush, and Ryder Hesjedal – certainly no slouches there.

I suggest you check out the Train Smarter blog and the posts I’ve tried to summarize here. He goes pretty in depth, but makes it easy to understand.

Shoot me your thoughts on it. It’s totally new to me so I’ll be really interested to get into a dialogue on it.