Endurance Redefined: Phase 4

(Michelle “Mama Bear” Lajoie-3 years out from a hip replacement.)

High Agency Endurance

Our goal at The Distance Project is to build high agency training programs.

Agency to age with your strength, power, and potential to smile at the dawn of each new year intact.

Agency to develop your body, and your mind, like they are your canvas to create a self.

I’m not just talking cosmetically here-every scar is a work of art.

Agency to become what you aspire to be.

This is the quality that endurance requires if endurance is an act of freedom as opposed to a trap.

I know many people who endure as an identity.

They hang on, push through, and can suffer plenty-but the reward of painful growth and hard fought adaptation doesn’t seem to come. They suffer longer than anyone-but this is no one’s goal at all.

If suffering has a value, it is the depth of its lessons. Our perception of the suffering changes the nature of the lesson. Some of us learn to become victims. Some learn to become leaders. Some learn gratitude, where others simply learn grit. The degree to which we control our perception is the degree to which we can learn through experience. This all comes down to personal agency in our own adaptation.

The first module of the Endurance Redefined program began with a question.

What is your mission? Mission drives purpose. Purpose drives clarity. Clarity drives focus. Focus drives action.

The second module focused on adaptation. How do you want to feel? What do you want your body to be capable of? Adapting on purpose is predicated on knowing what exactly you want to be-at least for the duration of a training block.

The third module focused on flow-that powerful marker of full immersion in the human experience. Flow has driven me to sign up for 100 mile racing thinking I was chasing a belt buckle, when I was really chasing after a state of mind. Flow has brought me to the mountains season after season to climb, sweat, breathe, and experience the feeling of being lost in experience. The more portals that we have for flow-the fuller and richer our tapestry of human experience becomes. When sitting and breathing, or walking with a lover, can trigger a flow state then training can truly be a choice made with agency.

This last module of the Endurance Redefined program shows you a simple strategy for building a lifelong training plan.

As a coach I’ve seen athletes complete a race training season or a strength training program and be left utterly lost as to what to do next. They usually end up scrolling through Instagram for something that looks fun and exciting and cherry picking workouts until another race or competition pulls their training back into a focused direction. There’s nothing wrong with this approach-except that it leaves the next phase of your physical and mental development up to the cards of social media, a random book recommendation, or a chance encounter with a coach.

If you have the tools to design your own training program for the times that you are in between focused training cycles you will have a choice in how you navigate the course of a year, or a decade.

If you’ve followed this program as written, you’ve gotten stronger by the sheer nature of adding weights and/or reps to the same exercises each week. In a world of fitness novelty where the element of surprise often takes precedence over speed, strength, mobility, and muscular development my hope was to give you a taste of the kind of progress that comes from doing the same exercises again, and again, and again.

My background as a coach began in the CrossFit scene. We chased suffering with such ferocity that we never stopped to ask whether we meeting our own goals, or just getting better at CrossFit.

When I began to train with a periodized plan based on progressive overload I saw the results in my own body that I’d been thrustering, burpee-ing, and wall-ball-ing myself to death for years trying to attain.

(A fun example of repeating a workout with slight increases in load or volume, forcing the body to adapt. This is from our Breathe to Perform program. Pick a kettlebell that you can swing with excellent form. Set a 3 minute clock. Perform as many kettlebell swings as you can, maintaining nasal only breathing, in the 3 minutes. Break the sets up any way that you like. Count the number of total swings, and work to increase it by 3–5 reps per workout. This is a cool compliment to the strength training cycle for this phase of Endurance Redefined. Feel free to add it in 1–2 times per week and share your results @breathetoperform

I applied the MASS 11 program by Dr. Pat Davidson to our team training sessions and it changed the nature of our entire gym. Speed, power, and strength gains like we had never seen before were forged in the fire of repetition, progressive overload, and working like hell in a little less than an hour to create “a perfect storm” of hormonal adaptations, strength adaptations, and aerobic conditioning that left every athlete pushed to their limits-and noticeably fitter in every measurable way-by the end of the program.

In order to build an endurance training plan that puts you in the drivers seat of your own adaptation I would like to bring this program home through a 4 week test drive of a concept that I call “high agency training.”

You will design your strength training program for the remaining 4 weeks. I’ll help to guide this process. Guy’s race training plan will meet your conditioning needs for this training block. By the end of this 4 week period my goal is to leave you feeling ready for a two week taper leading up to race day with a ton of time tested training principles in your arsenal.

Let’s do this!

1.) Breathing

2.) Warm-up

(We are sticking with our standard warm-up here, but adding 2 additional minutes to allow for a 40ft bear crawl. between rounds. Warm-up will be a total of 5 minutes repeating 8 calf raises per leg, 8 walking lunges or med ball slams, 8 per side leg swing (side to side) 8 per side leg swing (front to back) and a 40 foot bear crawl.

3.) Antifragile Calf Matrix

(We are going to stick with the antifragile calf matrix here, but each week I want you to envision one element of the matrix that you could replace it with a slightly different movement. Jump rope. Single leg hops. Calf raises in different positions. Calves require consistent training and this is one of the easiest things to forget and neglect. Create your own antifragile calf matrix and mix and match different versions throughout your training season-and every training season to come. )

4.)

Strength:

A. Pick a vertical press that you want to focus on in this 4 week block. (Kettlebell press, barbell military press, dumbbell press, sandbag press-whatever you have available that you want to work on. Pick a vertical pull that you want to focus on. (Kettlebell row, barbell row, sandbag row, cable machine, banded row, etc. Perform the following rep/load scheme for the next 4 weeks on training day 1 and 3. On training day two, swap for a horizontal press and pull.

Here are a few ides from our Train Like a Coach: Volume One program

Week 1: 2 sets of 8. Choose a weight that you could do 3–5 additional reps with if tasked. 1 set of 20 with a lighter weight.

Week 2: 2 sets of 10. (Same weight as last week.) 1 set of 20.

Week 3: 2 sets of 12. (Same weight as last week.) 2 sets of 20.

Week 4: 2 sets of 15. (Same weight as last week.) 2 sets of 20.

B.) Pick a knee dominant movement on days 1 and 3 and do the same. Knee knee dominant movements can be any type of squat, lunge, step-up, split squat, or leg press. On training day two, swap for a hip dominant movement like a deadlift.

  • This strongly resembles a training block from the Athletic Weapon program by Pat Davidson and Kate who I highly recommend that you follow. It has become the “go-to” meat and potatoes of our strength training at The Distance Project from which you can cook up countless different recipes. Sometimes we add a spicy kettle bell finisher or a team push-up challenge. Sometimes we add short sprinting cycles or heavy carries. But with a 4 week block focused on enough of the same exercises increasing in either load, reps, or both you will always exchange your efforts for fitness gains that you can feel and experience.

5.) We are going to stick with the tabata cycle here. It’s worked for our athletes at The Distance Project for the past 6 years and with thousands of movement combinations to choose from, no one has gotten tired of it yet. Choose one movement if you want to really focus on that muscle group. Choose 2–4 of you want to mix things up and have a lighter, perhaps more skill, breath, or recovery focused workout.

Don’t be afraid to add in a “non core” movement like a calf walkout from time to time…

*Now that you’ve got the hang of our foam roller reach with leg extension feel free to maintain the principles of locking down one side of the body while expanding through the other and create some variations of your own. Grab a medicine ball or a light weight to reach overhead with as you alternate leg extensions. Play, explore, create, learn to feel!

This block is only a 3 day per week training cycle. It could easily be extended into a 4 day cycle as well by repeating the day 2 workout.

At the end of this 4 week block focus on the 2 week taper in the race training program below. Feel free to add in some light, intuitive strength work but consider the strength portion of the program complete and prepare to head into race day feeling rested and ready to rock.

Race Training with Guy Petruzzelli Week 5–10

5k and 10k athletes

Week 5-

Day 1–40 min Fartlek run — 10 min easy, 5 min building to 85% of max effort, or of max HR, then — 6 x 30 sec FAST running, with 2–3 min of easy running — 75%, between each. Remainder of time is at 75%.

(Half Marathon, marathon, and Ultra athletes, this is a 50 minute run, using the same breakdown)

Day 2 — Warm up 15 minutes. Relaxed. 5 minutes of building pace to 85%. Then perform- 3 rds — 2 min at 5k pace, 1 min easy, 2 min at mile pace, 1 min easy, 2 x 15 sec sprints, 45 sec easy between each. Jog easy 3 min between rds

(Half marathon, marathon, and Ultra athletes perform the same run.)

Day 3 — Hill intervals. On a rolling course, 15 min of warm up run to a hill that is fairly free of traffic and stop signs, perform 6 x 30 sec efforts up the hill, stepping up your effort each time. Jog 30 sec back down the hill to recover. Then perform 4 x 90 sec efforts, at your current 5k pace, with 1 minute jog between each. (These are not on the same hill). Jog an additional 6 minutes, then perform 5 x 1 min efforts at your 5k pace, 1 min jog between each. Remainder of run is easy.

Total time 55–65 minutes

(Half marathon, marathon and ultra athletes to perform the same workout)

WEEK 6

Day 1 — Fartlek with a kick — 15 minutes of running, building your pace every 5 minutes, so by the end of the 15 minutes, you are at 85% max effort. Then, perform 8 x 45 sec efforts, with the last 15 seconds of each effort at close to all out effort pace. Recover with 3–4 minutes of easy running between each.

Total time — 40 minutes (Half marathon, marathon, and Ultra athletes will extend this to 55 minutes)

Day 2 — Negative split. Warm up 15 minutes, building pace every 5 minutes. Then perform, 5 x 30 sec fast but controlled efforts, with 30 sec very easy jog between each. On an out and back course, run 14 minutes in one direction return on the same route in 13 minutes. Effort on part 1–85%. Effort on part 2, between 90–95%. Remainder of run is easy.

Total time — 55 minutes. To be performed by all athletes.

Day 3 — On a rolling course, 15 minutes of running, building pace every 5 minutes. Then perform 8 x 30 sec efforts, fast but controlled with 30 sec easy jog between each. Then, 8 x 90 sec efforts at your current 5k pace, 1 min easy jog between each. Jog an additional minutes, then 8 x 1 min efforts at your 5k pace, 1 min easy jog between each. Remainder of run is easy.

Day 4–5k test. If possible, consider entering a local 5k. Otherwise, warm up well, 1.5 miles easy, 6 x 30 sec fast but controlled efforts. If not an actual race, perform in an area that is fairly uninterrupted, low traffic, no stops. Perform a 5k and record time. Cool down 1 mile easy or 8 minutes of easy running. To be performed by all athletes.

WEEK 7

Day 1 — Fartlek run. 15 minutes of running, building at the 7:30 mark to 85% of your 5k pace. (Example, if your average mile pace for the 5k was 7 min, then this would be a 7:30–7:35 pace). Perform 6 x 1 min efforts, last 15 seconds of each effort is all out. Recover with running at 85% for 3–4 minutes between each effort. Total time — 45 minutes. For Half marathon, marathon and ultra athletes, this is 55 minutes.

Day 2 — Warm up with 15 minutes of running, building each 5 minutes to 85% of your 5k pace. Then perform 3rds of 2 minutes at 5k pace, 2 minutes easy running, 90 seconds at 5 seconds faster than your 5k pace, 90 sec easy running, 1 minute at 10–15 seconds faster than your 5k pace, 1 minute easy jog between each. Repeat 3 times. Rest of run is no faster than 85% of 5k pace.

Total time — 50–58 minutes.

(Half marathon, marathon and ultra athletes repeat the above intervals 4 times. Total work time is 65 minutes)

Day 3 — Hill repeats. Map out a hill that takes 15–20 minutes to get to by running. The hill should be long enough to do 90 sec repeats. Run to the hill, building your pace every 5 minutes. Once at the hill, 6 x 30 sec hill repeats, at 85% of 5k pace, so controlled, sustainable, 30 sec jog down recovery. Then 6 x 90 sec hill repeats at 5k pace, recovery is jogging back to start. Cool down the remainder of the run.

Total time — 65 minutes for all athletes

WEEK 8

Day 1–15 minutes building to 85% of 5k pace, 15 minutes at 85% of 5k pace, 5 minutes at 90% of 5k pace, 5 min at 95% of 5k pace. 5 min cool down.

Total time — 45 minutes

(HM, Marathon, and Ultra athletes to increase cool down by 5 minutes. Total time is 50 minutes)

Day 2 — Warm up 15 minutes building each 5 minutes, to 90% of 5k pace. Then perform 4rds of 2 min at 5k pace, 90 sec at 10 sec faster than 5k pace, 90 sec easy, 1 min 15 sec faster than 5k pace, 1 min easy. Jog 3 min between each rd. Remainder of run is easy.

Total time for all athletes — 55 minutes.

Day 3 — shake out run — 30–40 minute run, with 6 x 30 sec efforts that are fast but controlled.

Day 4- 8k Test

Same protocol as Test 1.

Taper Time!

Week 9

Day 1–40 min Fartlek run — 10 min easy, 5 min building to 85% of max effort, or of max HR, then — 6 x 30 sec FAST running, with 2–3 min of easy running — 75%, between each. Remainder of time is at 75%.

(Half Marathon, marathon, and Ultra athletes, this is a 50 minute run, using the same breakdown)

Day 2 — Warm up 15 minutes. Relaxed. 5 minutes of building pace to 85%. Then perform- 2 rds — 2 min at 5k pace, 1 min easy, 2 min at mile pace, 1 min easy, 2 x 15 sec sprints, 45 sec easy between each. Jog easy 3 min between rds

(Half marathon, marathon, and Ultra athletes perform the same run.)

Day 3 — Test — Warm up 20 minutes, preferably to a rolling course. Once there, 20 minute continuous run, working the uphills, keeping effort at 85% max. Recover on the down hill. After 20 minutes, 10–15 min easy cool down jog. Record distance covered in 20 minutes.

(Half marathon, marathon and ultra athletes to perform the same workout)

WEEK 10

Day 1 — Fartlek — 15 min easy, then,6 x 30 sec hard efforts — think 90–100%, jog VERY easy 2:30 between each.

Total time — 35 minutes (Half marathon, marathon, and Ultra run the same.

Day 2–30 min run — 10 min warm up, into — 10 x 30 sec high cadence, efforts, think perfect form, 30 sec easy jog between each. Cool down 10 min

To be performed by all athletes.

Day 3 -RACE DAY!!!

Life is a sport and preparation for it is a choice. Training for the sport of life requires a constant upgrade to your own identity. The questions of mission guides the focus of adaptation-writing down your mission often is a North Star for personal growth.

The best advice I’ve ever received is as follows….

If you’re experiencing any negative emotion (doubt, fear, frustration, anger) it’s almost always a sign to redirect your attention, either to the task at hand, or to others. -Adam Robinson

Focus is fertilizer. Perspective is a choice. The task at hand is your mission in the world. Without a mission it is natural to feel lost because we are not anyone that we can articulate, even to ourselves, and are we are not going anywhere particular, or anywhere at all.

To turn your focus towards the task at hand is to work towards your mission. There is only so much energy in a day to point in this direction. In the remaining time, focus on others. Make someone smile. Send someone a text to let them know that you appreciate them. Strive to bring joy to someone else.

There are many stories on the Internet as to what you should do with your mind and where to point your thoughts. Trace each one back to a potential price tag to see if you’re a protege or a product.

Nassim Taleb said “the quickest way to kill a man is to give him a permanent doctor.”

The quickest way to kill a soul is to assign us each a personal social scientist. When a person’s paycheck is predicated on moral outrage you will always be a product in their market.

If you haven’t written down your mission, write it down. Do this every day-even if it changes every day. Hopefully it does. Hopefully it gets clearer in the light of consistent reflection

When in doubt, fear, anger, or frustration, move towards it. Or, make someone feel special, important, seem, felt, or heard

Deep connection, passion, and purpose are all on the map of human potential. Boredom isn’t a burden anyone should bear in a time where our relevance is both slipping away and right at the tip of our thumb.

I hope that this program has helped to provide a framework for high agency adaptation. I hope you found some value in it and that you’ll share the core principles with others. I hope it helps you kick ass and take names for a long time-and I hope to see you at A Race for the Future on July 24th (virtually or in person) to help the next generation of kids do the same.

More info on our nonprofit organization, Physiology First: physiologyfirst.org

A recent interview on our organization’s mission and the goals of the race: https://open.spotify.com/episode/1ZTXGmalKCRR5q8BgBCDAJ?si=WZhXhNfeRQqh18hpBWwTYw&dl_branch=1

Please, stay connected as we prepare to share new training programs, team challenges, and 21st century mental health education for kids at Breathe to Perform, The Distance Project, and Physiology First.

Stay strong, run long, and go the distance!

Breathe to Perform helps to improve health, fitness, and performance through better breathing. Professional development services for workplaces and teams.