Intensity versus quantity

10 May

Athletes, nutritionists and trainers have argued whether intensity or quantity, or indeed a combination of the two, are more effective training methods. Most opinions tend to stick to sport specific trends and also vary considerably depending on the level of the athletes being considered.

My opinions are formed from a lot of reading on the subject, my own personal experience, witnessing progress of those I have trained with and the theories behind the CrossFit methodology.

I have found that intensity will always produce broad benefits in addition to increasing endurance. Large quantities of endurance, however, does not seem to have a wide ranging benefit. There are many theories that support this; HIIT, the theory of High Intensity Interval Training, Fartlek, a slightly longer established method, and Tabata, widely used by the CrossFit community. I utilise all of these techniques on a very regular basis, across a wide range of movements and Met Con activities.

As I write this, I am fully aware that if I fail in my attempt to run 40 miles tomorrow, that my argument will fall flat on its face. Thus far, I have competed in the Stafford Half Marathon and completed a few longer runs in training, but nothing in the order of 40 miles. Whilst I have done some endurance based training, quantity focussed, I have mainly stuck with the principle of intensity based training.

Of course, nutrition, supplementation and motivation play a huge role too. In addition to my paleo based eating habits, I have supplemented throughout with PPS Nutrition with great results. I will use their stuff throughout the event and have confidence in the results. As you will know, I have also become a wearer and supporter of Skinny Chimp, which combined with the online brotherhood and community spirit of Team PPS, provides great motivation, and obviously great looking comfortable apparel.


Whilst I sit in an isolated hut in the Lake District, nervous about the 5:30am start of Keswick 2 Barrow, I am naturally reflecting on the training I have done over the last few months. Even with the nerves, I don’t regret the intensity or volume of my training, and still have confidence in the methodology. I know many will see paleo and CrossFit as poor preparation for an ultra-marathon, especially for a guy who has only ever run 21.5 miles, but I believe heavy lifts, bodyweight movements, gymnastics, and all forms of metabolic conditioning have contributed to me being stronger, leaner, healthier, faster, more flexible, less injury prone, and above all, fitter!

Tomorrow, of course, will be its own proof. I genuinely hope I don’t fail and that I have the mental strength to fight through the inevitable barriers I will face. I hope my team all do well, I hope the event is a success, but above all this, I hope we have fun. And this is where the key lies, through weight loss, increasing fitness and improving health, I have enjoyed almost every step, and that is my main aim for tomorrow.

My next blog will obviously focus on the race, and any pertinent points that arise. Until them, enjoy your weekend, enjoy your training, and wish me luck!


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