Anti-hero – Avoiding Overtraining

A few weeks ago Coach Benno highlighted one of the biggest pitfalls in endurance training – especially SBR: the hero workout.

You know the one, where deep down you know you don’t need to push to that intensity, swim that extra kilometre, or run that extra effort – but you do. You do so because, you aren’t confident in your ability, not in the true sense; your ego takes over the rational brain, and things can get messy. But it “felt fine at the time”, or “I just wanted to see if I could do its”….

False-confidence, overtraining (under-recovery) will ultimately kill your performance and make you very grumpy. Triathletes tend to be cranky enough as it is.

Naturally – at least in my mind – if there are hero workouts, then what are the alternatives? What is the counter to the hero-workout?

The anti-hero workout, of course.

Now, do not be confused by the name. There should be no negative connotations attached to these types of workouts. for they are the most beneficial sessions, you can apply to your schedule. No hyperbole, just good, honest, roll ‘em up sessions that do exactly what they designed to do: sustainably improve athletic performance (meaning you get better, withoutgetting sick or injured).

I’ll be honest.

Anti-hero workouts aren’t particularly sexy. You won’t see many social posts from high profile athletes boasting about their 2 hour runs all at 6’/km pace. Or how they rode for 5 hours at a heart rate that barely touched 120bpm. That doesn’t sound as appealing as crowing about the 10x400m track set at supra-threshold HR, with lactic readings between each effort (I made that up, but probably somewhere, someone who really doesn’t need to be doing that, is doing that).

Anti-hero sessions are the foundations of your schedule; they create the endurance base from which you race on, they help to protect your immune function, minimise the damages created by training for extended periods (oxidative stress), and ultimately build a very resilient endurance athlete. The rest of the sessions should be built around these anti-hero workouts.

Anything else is mere puffery…

Sometimes, though, the athlete can become too entrenched in that LSD (Long Slow Distance, not mind-widening hallucinogenics) style workout, forgetting that they need to be progressive.

Do them incorrectly, and you will stall progress. You will go backwards even.
Do them the right way, and you will see tangible results that should be easily identifiable.

Take MAF testing for example (Google it if unsure). You run at a predetermined heart rate for a prescribed distance. Over time and with the right training mix (that’s coach-athlete privilege), you will see your pace per kilometre improve; you will run faster splits at the same HR.

You have to be working progressively with your AHW (guess) so that you are continually pushing your endurance in a sustainable sense.

The MAF test or MAF running is just an example of the anti-hero workout. Of which there are many (again, coach-athlete privilege), and should be used from Base to Build, and even into the final prep weeks of your training. Ignore them at your peril.

Long -live the anti-hero sessions.