Today I received several questions from BIKE, a European-mountain bike magazine. I thought they were good ones so I am sharing them—and my answers—with you.
Question: What are the biggest changes in endurance training in the last 10 years?
Answer: In cycling the greatest change has come with the increasing use of power meters and accompanying software. As a result the extensive work of Andrew Coggan, PhD, has built on that of Bannister and others to revolutionize the way athletes and coaches view and analyze power-based data to improve training.
Question: Has training changed?
Answer: Training, per se, has not changed, but how we view it has. For example, the use of power meters (as described above) has changed how we organize the training load and individual workouts. In addition, periodization has become more sophisticated for the advanced athlete with a greater emphasis on non-linear and block periodization.
Question: Has science changed training or maybe has sport itself changed science?
Answer: The changes mentioned above came from science. This seems to be the trend now. However, prior to 10 years ago most change originated with athletes and coaches.
Question: Have you experienced a general change of health awareness?
Answer: Yes, very much so, especially with regard to diet.
Question: Do you recommend a special diet for a serious endurance athlete and for one who wants to become one. Is there a “one-fits-all diet“?
Answer: As we are all homo sapiens there is a general dietary formula that works best. Just as one would not feed a lion grass or a deer meat since they would not thrive on such diets, humans have foods that they thrive on also. They are vegetables, fruits and animal protein. High-volume athletes, however, also need starch to speed recovery. The ratio or mix of these and their timing of intake within a given athlete’s diet depends on a great many individual variables.
Question: What part does anaerobic training have in the game of long-distance biking?
Answer: Anaerobic endurance training has been shown by Billat and others to be an excellent way to boost aerobic capacity (VO2max) and economy. The only questions remaining are when such training should be done and how much of it included in training. The answers depend on the athlete’s events, goals and limiters.