ATC: Tools to Build Your Best Training Program, What is ‘Pleasant Fatigue,’ New Research on Polarized Training’s Effectiveness and More

October 2, 2015

There’s still time! Donate to Kona
Visit our shop page and check out the savings on Nordic Naturals – 15% off and free shipping
– PLUS –
The Ep Gear sale 50% off everything while supplies last.


Discussion on a new review study measuring the effectiveness of polarized training
-What is polarized training: undulating nonlinear periodization model with nearly all the training time spent at a “light” (≤13) and “very hard” (≥17) pace with very limited time at “hard” (14-16) or race pace (6-20 RPE scale). To accomplish this, the polarization training model has specific high-intensity workouts separated by one or more long slow distance workouts, with the exercise intensity remaining below ventilatory threshold 1 and/or blood lactate of less than 2 mM (LT is usually 4 mmol/l)
-Bottom line: best accomplished by going easy on long slow distance workouts, avoiding “race pace” and getting after it during interval workouts.
-Research says: Effect sizes for increasing aerobic endurance performance for the polarized training model are consistently superior to that of the threshold training model. (this study showed that some athletes decreased performance with the threshold training model)
-They define Z2 as race pace/intensity, so training should be Z1 or Z3 for polarized model.
-Promoting Z1 & Z3 – lines up with kenyan system. canova eventually spend time/push volume at race pace. 60% at race pace+
-Do we spend too much time in Z2? aka… our race pace/gray zone?
-Mention TSB on training peaks

Deep squat position in a test (like FMS) vs. real life
-Take home: I think the specifics laid are are good for test consistency, but in reality all of us might have our own unique needs and biomechanics that lend to our ideal squat position and that is ok.

Max HR & why it’s a bad tool for setting zones
-Is max HR a legit way to set zones? Is there such thing as a true max HR? Difference between 180 Formula and training with the zone concept. Listener asks, “Since the 180 formula was just made up for approximation purposes, what if you actually have some real numbers to work with, like a true max HR?”
More reading

Hiking/walking vs. Run Training for Ultras
-Knowing the importance of being a “good” hiker for my longer ultras I notice when training at MAF at a certain incline on trails, I can either jog very slowly to maintain MAF, or speed hike and be slightly lower than MAF. Given the different muscle and neurological demands between running and hiking, would I be better off training the hiking aspect (because we all know most runners suck at hiking) right now or continuing the slow jog, which doesn’t feel natural? or does it matter given that MAF is MAF, right?
-See Myth #2
Tawnee’s current training
-Say lucho?

Clarifying Jack Daniels’ Terminology
-I get slightly confused reading Daniels’ book when it comes to some terminology. I can’t quite figure out what he means by a “Hard” run or pace. Is that different from Threshold or Interval or Repetition? It must be but I can’t quite figure out how. And regarding Easy vs. Long. Seems to me Long runs are done at Easy pace. Yes? Point is that L runs are really also E runs. Just longer, I guess. Yes? Although he spells it out fairly well, a quick Lucho definition of E vs. M vs I vs T vs R would be helpful, especially if Lucho has a twist on the definitions.

Banana Chips?
-Listener wants to know more about the banana chips made in coconut oil that Tawnee buys on Amazon.

Coming off an upper-body/shoulder injury, with the green light to run again after 3 months off of just walking. How to safely build back running mileage for ultra training? Looking for general guidelines and advice to avoid doing too much too fast.

Luchoism: “Training is your choice, use the tools to do what’s right for you.”

What does Lucho mean by “pleasant fatigue” and why is this a good thing to have?

Comments (2)

  • SciTriat says:

    Hey Tawnee and Lucho! Love the podcast and ATC, but I have to make a comment on this particular episode, since there was clearly a misunderstanding in your discussion of polarized training.

    In practically all studies on polarized training, a 3-zone system has been used. one 1 is below the aerobic threshold, zone 2 is between the aerobic and slightly above anaerobic threshold, and zone 3 is above 102% of threshold. There are certain things I'd like to point out. I think that threshold training is VERY useful, BUT, science seems to converge towards the fact that for very well-trained and elite athletes, a polarized approach is in fact better than a training regime were threshold training is emphasized.

    This has been shown both in retrospective studies quantifying the intensity levels of endurance athletes, and in controlled trials comparing different training methodologies. In one such study, if I'm converting to Friel-zones, the threshold group did a bit more than 50% of their training in zones 3-5a (threshold), and the rest in zones 1-2. The polarized group did just below 70% in zones 1-2, about 25% above threshold (5b-5c), and only minimal training in zones 4-5a. Two other groups, a HIIT and a high-volume low intensity group were also included, and polarized training outperformed them all after 9 weeks. Here's a link to the study:

    And as the review article discussed clearly shows, this is one of many articles comparing different training methods. I actually wrote a fairly comprehensive blog post on the subject of polarized training, and it was in doing my research for that post that I came to re-listen to this particular part of this episode.

    All this being said, as I mentioned, the jury's still out on whether this all applies to less well-trained athletes. My hunch is that it doesn't, and that for them threshold training will be much more beneficial than it has been shown to be for elites and subelites. But hopefully someone will do a study on that too some day.

    Hope this doesn't come across as criticism, since it definitely isn't. I love the show, it's absolute GOLD! But I just couldn't help but jump to the defense of polarized training since it definitely seems to have a lot of value. By the way, Joel Filliol and Paulo Sousa recently did a great podcast episode on it as well. Have a listen, it's well worth it.

    Keep up the great work!


  • David Patzer says:

    I buy unsweetened banana chips cooked in coconut oil at my local grocery store for $1.90 a pound. They are in the bulk section. I would suggest you look there before ordering on amazon.

Add your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.