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Old 01-12-08, 08:32 AM   #1
buddy
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Excess Cardio Is A Joke???

A trainer gave this article to my wife. What do you think?

Excess Cardio Is A Joke
by Craig Ballantyne

Tis' the season for cardio horror stories.

One woman wrote, "I started out doing 5 hours of cardio per week. No results. So I upped it to 7 hours per week. Still nothing. Do you suggest I do more? I'm worried if I use your program, I won't get
any results because you don't even have an hour of interval cardio per week. Please help!"

And from a gentleman on the Men's Health forum, "I took up running and didn't take up stretching until it was almost to late and almost destroyed a knee. What happened was that my IT bands got
really tight and my inner quads didn't gain any strength so my knee cap got pulled out of place. I had an MRI done on my knee and have found that my knee cap has bruised my femur. "

Cardio horror stories are a dime-a-dozen. So here's the bottom line on cardio...


Long slow aerobic training remains the biggest practical joke in fitness. Marathon running for the average overweight person? Why don't you just tell someone to go play in traffic...oh wait, that's exactly what they are doing - all while crushing their joints with excess weight and repetitive pounding.

If you do long, slow cardio, its only a matter of time before you end up in a physiotherapist's office with all the others that do too much of the same thing...whether its running or spin classes,
overuse injuries are far too common in the cardio world.

After all, what's easier to overdo, total body strength training done 3 times per week for 20 minutes, or the same cardio activity done for 6-9 hours per week?

Heck, I once knew a physiotherapist who was so addicted to spin classes that she had overuse injuries that prevented her from walking normally! Physio, heal thyself!

What a joke that cardio is...

But cardio fits our "more is better" mentality, doesn't it? We go right from a 3000 calorie meal at the Outback Steakhouse to our 60 minute cardio confessional sessions on the elliptical. More, more,
more, more. And yet get less results?

There is a better way.

Take a peek at the weight room when you are in a gym. Then compare the bodies there to the bodies on the elliptical. You'll find the sculpted, toned physiques lifting dumbells and doing pushups, and the plump, "never changing physiques" spinning their tires over on the cardio equipment.

No matter what the city, no matter where the gym, its the same old story.

Burn fat, get lean, and boost your metabolism with resistance training. Finish with short interval training or even bodyweight circuits and you are off to the fat burning races.

Or get left behind on the cardio equipment that is getting you nowhere.

Craig Ballantyne
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Old 01-12-08, 08:38 AM   #2
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He's an idiot.
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Old 01-12-08, 08:56 AM   #3
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Since the goal of the training is never stated, it's hard to argue that one method or another is more effective in achieving this (unknown) goal. First you have to clearly define the purpose of the training, then you can develop a plan to reach these ends. To believe there's a single one size fits all training plan is idiocy.
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Old 01-12-08, 10:37 AM   #4
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Since the goal of the training is never stated, it's hard to argue that one method or another is more effective in achieving this (unknown) goal. First you have to clearly define the purpose of the training, then you can develop a plan to reach these ends. To believe there's a single one size fits all training plan is idiocy.
I think the vast majority of folks have an unspoken goal of longer life and maintaining full functionality to death do them part. The aerobics keeps you alive and the resistance training maintains functionality.

Those of 25,341 men that could maintain about 16 minutes on a treadmill test had an age adjusted death rate 1/6 of those who could tough it out for only 3 minutes and 1/2 the death rate of those who could do it for 8 minutes. That's the scientifically established benefit of aerobics.

Source: Physical Activity and Health edited by Bouchard, Blair & Haskell, page 150, figure 9.5.


Al
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Old 01-12-08, 10:40 AM   #5
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Since the goal of the training is never stated, it's hard to argue that one method or another is more effective in achieving this (unknown) goal.
Right. However, if the goal is to improve at an endurance sport like cycling, his advice is crap.

... Brad
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Old 01-12-08, 01:04 PM   #6
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The trainer that gave this article to me is a "body builder" who thinks everyone wants to have a body like his. Most of his clients are more concerned with "body sculpting" than they are with good fitteness. We have a running debate when I am training for an event he wants me to eat only protein rather than a balance diet leaning more towards complex carbohydrates. When I first started riding in ignorance I listened to him and litterally it almost killed me (I blame my gout on him). The first triatholon I did he had me eat 6 eggs and no carbohydrate so that I could stay "in the fat burning mood" at the end of the event I was in the "throw up mood" and the "massive headach mood". Luckly I found this forum and Chris Carmichael book Fitness Cycling.
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Old 01-12-08, 01:12 PM   #7
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Take a peek at the weight room when you are in a gym. Then compare the bodies there to the bodies on the elliptical. You'll find the sculpted, toned physiques lifting dumbells and doing pushups, and the plump, "never changing physiques" spinning their tires over on the cardio equipment.
This is his goal. It ain't mine, that's for sure.
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Old 01-12-08, 02:06 PM   #8
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In fact, though Mr. Ballantyne stretches his points in order to get attention, he is correct. In case you haven't noticed, interval training is gaining a lot of attention in the field of scientific training. And, in case you haven't been to a gym lately, the people with the low body fat are more often found in the weight room than on the cardio machines. And, in case you've never taken a spin class, the whole point of spin class is interval training, not LSD. You might read this for a starter:
http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/392/

then google "long steady distance interval training" for more of the same.

I still do a good bit of LSD. I think it helps to support one's ability to do intervals. If I cramp during a hard day's ride full of intervals, I think I haven't done enough volume. But I do think that the emphasis should be on intervals and resistance training, rather than LSD.
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Old 01-12-08, 02:33 PM   #9
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In fact, though Mr. Ballantyne stretches his points in order to get attention, he is correct. In case you haven't noticed, interval training is gaining a lot of attention in the field of scientific training. And, in case you haven't been to a gym lately, the people with the low body fat are more often found in the weight room than on the cardio machines. And, in case you've never taken a spin class, the whole point of spin class is interval training, not LSD. You might read this for a starter:
http://www.dragondoor.com/articler/mode3/392/

then google "long steady distance interval training" for more of the same.

I still do a good bit of LSD. I think it helps to support one's ability to do intervals. If I cramp during a hard day's ride full of intervals, I think I haven't done enough volume. But I do think that the emphasis should be on intervals and resistance training, rather than LSD.
To add to what you are saying:
Endurance exercises can cause testosterone levels to decrease whereas strengthening exercises for short periods of time can cause an increase in testosterone levels to increase adding to strength and endurance. This may be why intervals are so effective. As well, they severely tax the whole body in a short period of time thus toughening up the body so it can resist the rigors of long rides. Massive amounts of cardio can be unproductive and in some cases counterproductive.

Add variety to your workouts and do different things. There are many other ways to become a better cyclist aside from cycling all the time. If you can increase your fitness by hitting your body at different points and on different levels you will be a better cyclist due to the synergistic effect of a complete exercise and nutrition programme.

Another bonus of different activities that focus on strength as well as endurance is that you will keep your mind sharp. Neurologically, every time you involve yourself in a different type of physical activity your brain will have to adjust to accommodate the new movement and coordination of different muscle groups. This further adds to the synergistic effect that different types of training will have. To improve your cycling sn endurance do weights, and to improve in the weight room, cycle.
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Old 01-12-08, 02:47 PM   #10
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"Long slow aerobic training remains the biggest practical joke in fitness."

There is some truth in this ... I've seen the people at the gym on the cardio equipment. Pedal ..... flip the page in the magazine ... pedal .... gaze at the TV .... pedal ...... at an RPM of about 5. And I've heard some who have done this for half an hour or so tell their friends that they've burned enough calories to go have a large sticky pastry and a latte at the local coffee shop. Yeah right. They've barely burned more than they would have if they just stood their breathing. And they wonder why they can't lose weight. The woman who upped her cardio from 5 to 7 hours a day in the article above could have been one of these!

The US Institute of Medicine issued a statement a few years back that in order for people to lose weight their recommendation was that people spend 60-90 minutes doing moderate exercise (not just cardio) every day. Moderate. Not slow. Moderate so that you're breathing a bit harder and cracking a sweat. And every day ... no rest days!

From my own experience as a long distance cyclist. In the summer, when I'm riding 300+ kms a week, which for me equals about 15 hours a week, or just over 2 hours a day, I can eat whatever I want and I will lose weight. In fact, when my riding starts heading up into the 400+ kms a week range, I find eating a huge pain because it is really difficult to eat enough. I feel like I'm eating all the time, and I'm not that fond of eating in the first place. And I lose weight. Some summers I've lost 20 to 30 lbs. But in the winter, my quantity of exercise drops. Right now, I'm walking (briskly of course) just under an hour a day during the week, and cycling about an hour a day on the weekends. That's only 7 hours a week. I'm maintaining my weight ... but I'm not losing.

There is also a lot of evidence that the more muscular you are, the more calories you'll burn. Therefore, weighlifting is not a bad idea. It's also good for the bones ... which is something us cyclists need to pay attention to. In fact, my ex-husband was able to lose 75 lbs one year by working with a bodybuilder on a weights program with about 30 minutes of cardio a day. The combination of the weights program and the cardio would have added up to about 90 minutes of exercise a day. In addition, he ate properly (for the first time in his life, I think), and the weight just dropped off.
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Old 01-12-08, 05:13 PM   #11
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"Long slow aerobic training remains the biggest practical joke in fitness."

There is some truth in this ... The woman who upped her cardio from 5 to 7 hours a day in the article above could have been one of these!
Or could be one of the crazies I see at the gym destroying their joints on treadmills and spin classes. I ride quite a bit, and in the winter, do spin classes 2-3x per week. I am always extremely sensitive to proper form, warmup, and stop or modify my routine if I perceive even a hint of knee pain.

We've got one spin instructor who doesn't include proper warmup, encourages the other crazies to go all out, all the time, and is always telling the class to rock their bodies back and forth in the climbing position. When I ride my bike, and I climb standing, I may rock the bike back and forth, which is totally different than rocking your body on a spin bike. It really destroys knees and hips.

Bottom line - some people always overdo things, some always underdo things. I just try to do things safely and effectively. You guys are a big help!
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Old 01-12-08, 05:33 PM   #12
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Long slow workouts are still the backbone of all endurance sports. All marathon plans have you do your long run slow. Cross country skiers typically do one long slow workout per week at Level I. Cyclists do their long weekend rides at Level I as well. Until some marathoner or other endurance athlete manages to crack the elite level without long slow workouts I'm inclined to believe that long slow workouts work much better than hammering it everyday at just below LT.

From my experience, such as this past winter, I've managed to drop eight pounds already since I've started these 10+ hour weeks even though I've been eating like a horse. I never miss my long workout, and sometimes they're five days apart.
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Old 01-12-08, 05:57 PM   #13
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Until some marathoner or other endurance athlete manages to crack the elite level without long slow workouts I'm inclined to believe that long slow workouts work much better than hammering it everyday at just below LT.
Would you consider winning the Route de France cracking the elite level?
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Old 01-12-08, 07:00 PM   #14
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Long slow aerobic training is different than cardio training. If you can't burn fat and lose weight when you get into your target heart rate for fat burning, then you need to eat less.

I agree, the writer is a moron, in my opinion. I lost 57 pounds just from riding a bicycle 4-5 days a week. I did it in exactly 52 weeks. I didn't even diet.

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Originally Posted by buddy View Post
A trainer gave this article to my wife. What do you think?

Excess Cardio Is A Joke
by Craig Ballantyne

Tis' the season for cardio horror stories.

One woman wrote, "I started out doing 5 hours of cardio per week. No results. So I upped it to 7 hours per week. Still nothing. Do you suggest I do more? I'm worried if I use your program, I won't get
any results because you don't even have an hour of interval cardio per week. Please help!"

And from a gentleman on the Men's Health forum, "I took up running and didn't take up stretching until it was almost to late and almost destroyed a knee. What happened was that my IT bands got
really tight and my inner quads didn't gain any strength so my knee cap got pulled out of place. I had an MRI done on my knee and have found that my knee cap has bruised my femur. "

Cardio horror stories are a dime-a-dozen. So here's the bottom line on cardio...


Long slow aerobic training remains the biggest practical joke in fitness. Marathon running for the average overweight person? Why don't you just tell someone to go play in traffic...oh wait, that's exactly what they are doing - all while crushing their joints with excess weight and repetitive pounding.

If you do long, slow cardio, its only a matter of time before you end up in a physiotherapist's office with all the others that do too much of the same thing...whether its running or spin classes,
overuse injuries are far too common in the cardio world.

After all, what's easier to overdo, total body strength training done 3 times per week for 20 minutes, or the same cardio activity done for 6-9 hours per week?

Heck, I once knew a physiotherapist who was so addicted to spin classes that she had overuse injuries that prevented her from walking normally! Physio, heal thyself!

What a joke that cardio is...

But cardio fits our "more is better" mentality, doesn't it? We go right from a 3000 calorie meal at the Outback Steakhouse to our 60 minute cardio confessional sessions on the elliptical. More, more,
more, more. And yet get less results?

There is a better way.

Take a peek at the weight room when you are in a gym. Then compare the bodies there to the bodies on the elliptical. You'll find the sculpted, toned physiques lifting dumbells and doing pushups, and the plump, "never changing physiques" spinning their tires over on the cardio equipment.

No matter what the city, no matter where the gym, its the same old story.

Burn fat, get lean, and boost your metabolism with resistance training. Finish with short interval training or even bodyweight circuits and you are off to the fat burning races.

Or get left behind on the cardio equipment that is getting you nowhere.

Craig Ballantyne
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Old 01-12-08, 07:00 PM   #15
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Cyclists do their long weekend rides at Level I as well. Until some marathoner or other endurance athlete manages to crack the elite level without long slow workouts I'm inclined to believe that long slow workouts work much better than hammering it everyday at just below LT.
Too bad you're so far away. You could come out on my ride on a Sunday. Believe me, we don't ride zone 1. We may not make it down into zone 1 at all, during the whole ride, which we keep under a century.

I tried the LSD thing one winter, and man, how I got dropped when it was hammer time! Pitiful. OTOH, who rides just below LT? Best to recover in high (endurance) zone 2, climb and do rolling paceline at or above LT, and sprint and do short hills as hard as you can. Hard + Not Hard is the thing. I'll do a shortish zone 1 ride once/week, but I'll usually add some one-legged pedaling or fast spin intervals in the middle of that one. Those are muscular coordination intervals and don't get the HR higher than zone 2, so that counts as recovery. I also count anything under 80% of LT as recovery. So it's either go hard or recover.

If I hike, snowshoe, or ski, that's all zone 1. One day a week of that is nice, and can make one surprisingly sore, because a cyclist can go pretty hard in those sports and still stay in zone 1.

I believe the point of the article is that you don't need to do all that LSD any more. Intervals and high intensity training (HIT) works better, causes less wear on the body, and takes less time. That may be hard for you to believe. But remember, my HS coach told me not to drink water, either. Thinking changes. Give it a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
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Old 01-12-08, 07:03 PM   #16
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I see lot's of people at the fitness center I belong to that don't break a sweat during their cardio workout. Most are their for 30 minutes tops and then leave. Three quarters of the people I see in spin class are pathetic. They like to get by with little effort. No wonder there are horror stories.

Lazy people never achieve their goals but, are the first to make excuses.
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Old 01-12-08, 07:37 PM   #17
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From my own experience as a long distance cyclist. In the summer, when I'm riding 300+ kms a week, which for me equals about 15 hours a week, or just over 2 hours a day, I can eat whatever I want and I will lose weight.
Well everyone is different. I ride around 200-220 miles a week, and I can't loose weight unless I watch my diet very carefully. Even then it's very very difficult.
If I ever heard anyone telling me what that guy wrote I would run away very very fast. Problem is most people on those machines way over estimate how many calories they burn, so they eat more. "Oh I can have an extra pastry I worked out in the gym" Problem is that pastry is 500 calories, they burned 200. Another problem is some people go from no activity to a lot (but still low intensity) that leads to injuries.
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Old 01-12-08, 07:53 PM   #18
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Too bad you're so far away. You could come out on my ride on a Sunday. Believe me, we don't ride zone 1. We may not make it down into zone 1 at all, during the whole ride, which we keep under a century.
You're probably just way fitter than me. I can't do that every day. I can't do it for four hours without my HR shooting sky high.
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Old 01-12-08, 08:09 PM   #19
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Long slow workouts are still the backbone of all endurance sports. All marathon plans have you do your long run slow. Cross country skiers typically do one long slow workout per week at Level I. Cyclists do their long weekend rides at Level I as well. Until some marathoner or other endurance athlete manages to crack the elite level without long slow workouts I'm inclined to believe that long slow workouts work much better than hammering it everyday at just below LT.

According to: http://www.cptips.com/hrmntr.htm
  • Zone 1 65% of MHR (recovery rides)
  • Zone 2 65-72% of MHR (endurance events)
  • Zone 3 73-80% of MHR (high level aerobic activity)
  • Zone 4 84-90% of MHR (lactate threshold(LT,AT); time trialing)
  • Zone 5 91-100% of MHR (sprints and anaerobic training)

I'm an endurance cyclist and I hardly ever ride at Zone 1. Zone 1 is what I might do the day after a randonnee when I'm going out for a 20 km recovery spin. My long weekend training rides, centuries, brevets, etc. are usually in Zone 2.


But even so, in Zone 1 you'd still be working harder than most of the people I see in the gym. If they got their heart rates above 100 bpm it would be a miracle (unless they are quite obese, in which case their heart rates are always high).

That's the problem with telling people to do long slow distances. As soon as people hear that, they slow down to a plod and figure they're doing good ... and then can't figure out why they aren't losing weight or getting fit. That's why I talk about long steady distance.

I define long steady distance as riding at the fastest speed which you can maintain (without having to slow down to recover now and then) for about 6 or 8 hours. It will vary from person to person, of course. For me, 20 - 22 km/h is probably about the maximum speed I can maintain for that distance, or longer distances. And my heart rate is in about Zone 2 to do it. But I feel comfortable there, and can keep going at that pace all day long ... any slower and I don't think I'd get much benefit at all.

Last edited by Machka; 01-12-08 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 01-12-08, 08:25 PM   #20
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OK maybe I'm getting the zones and lingo mixed up.

Zone 1: Can talk and tell stories
Zone 2: Can talk 5-6 words at a time
Zone 3: Can't talk much, yes, no, slow down
Zone 4: Can't talk at all
Zone 5: 2 minutes max of all out torture

So maybe my long distance is really between zone 1 and 2 then.
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Old 01-12-08, 10:19 PM   #21
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And we all agree that it's long STEADY distance, not long SLOW distance that LSD refers to, right?

Chris Kostman emphasized that here, in a discussion of trainer use: http://www.ultracycling.com/training/lsd_training.html
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Old 01-13-08, 10:07 PM   #22
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And we all agree that it's long STEADY distance, not long SLOW distance that LSD refers to, right?

Chris Kostman emphasized that here, in a discussion of trainer use: http://www.ultracycling.com/training/lsd_training.html
Yep, and I follow up a base period of around 1,000 miles with plenty of hill/sprint/speed intervals... so I can actually ride pretty fast when motivated to do so.

The LSD period just prepares me for the torture of early spring, otherwise I have a tendency to get into an overtraining condition way before I should if I ride all year round at high intensities.

I feel great with heart rate averages from 155-165 bpm for an entire 40 mile tempo ride. My MHR is 190 bpm. It's when I push up to 170+ that I start to feel it!
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Old 01-14-08, 01:27 PM   #23
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A trainer gave this article to my wife. What do you think?

Excess Cardio Is A Joke
by Craig Ballantyne
He's right. Sprint running or running up hill is much more beneficial than chugging away at a steady pace. Effective exercise shocks the system by tearing up muscle cells which are then rebuilt stronger than they were before. Muscle mass burns calories.
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Old 01-14-08, 05:20 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kuan View Post
OK maybe I'm getting the zones and lingo mixed up.

Zone 1: Can talk and tell stories
Zone 2: Can talk 5-6 words at a time
Zone 3: Can't talk much, yes, no, slow down
Zone 4: Can't talk at all
Zone 5: 2 minutes max of all out torture

So maybe my long distance is really between zone 1 and 2 then.
My lungs aren't very good, but I'd make it:

Zone 1: Can talk and tell stories. Recovery. Ego will not allow this pace outside at all.
Zone 2: Can talk, but may have trouble being very coherent as attention is elsewhere. 200 mile pace.
Zone 3: Can talk 5-6 words at a time. 50 mile pace.
Zone 4: Can't talk much, yes, no, slow down. Can maintain for at least 45 minutes, but it's gonna hurt.
Zone 5: Can't talk at all, but can maintain for at least 10-12 minutes
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Old 01-15-08, 02:20 AM   #25
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People who are serious about endurance sports don't train at the gym, at least not if they have a choice. They go on runs and rides with their clubs, or get their swimming instruction and lap practice elsewhere. If they have the money they go to places like Breakaway Performance Center. If not, they wing it on their own. You will only rarely if ever catch them on an elliptical at the gym!

Serious body builders however go to the gym. It's to them what the pool is to a swimmer. You won't find body builders in the pool, and if you do - let's just say they're not the most impressive performers. I often go to a pool that's part of a gym (it's open 24hrs, its main redeeming quality), and there's a mix of good swimmers, non-swimmers, rank beginners - and the occasional weight trainer. You can immediately tell who is going to churn up the storm of the century on their 'fast paced' 1:00min 50m lap, then stand around. Churn another half lap. Stand around. Then get out and leave because they're exhausted. (Meanwhile the competent swimmers turn 35-45sec laps for an hour.) It's like a tradition. These are usually also the only people who won't talk to the serious lap swimmers, like they look down on us or something. Everyone else is pretty nice and friendly.
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