By Mark Allen
Welcome to The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. Hopefully, the information you find in these pages will change your life. It did for me when I began training under the guidance of Dr. Phil Maffetone.
My athletic career started in 1968 when I answered an ad in the local paper announcing swim-team tryouts. At the time I literally couldn’t swim more than the length of a twenty-five-yard pool without having to stop and catch my breath. In the nearly thirty years since, I have tried almost every training theory and coaching style in the pursuit of personal athletic excellence. The evolution to my present program was not easy. The years of regimented swim coaching had ingrained in me a very narrow-minded training philosophy, which was to do things faster. If I could just train with more yardage, and train faster, then I would most certainly race faster. Or so I thought.
My race results from this type of program were mediocre at best. “Do more, faster” really only works for those so talented that their genetics override the lunacy of their training and take them to greatness anyway. I ended my twelve-year swimming career completely burned out, physically and mentally. I also ended it feeling like I just hadn’t reached my potential. But at the time, I couldn’t put my finger on why.
Fortunately, I was given a second chance to explore the limits of my athletic abilities. In 1982, I embarked on what has been a dream trip through the world of the triathlon. It wasn’t always smooth, though. My initiation years mirrored my swimming career. Due specifically to the swimming mentality, “Do more, faster,” a few great results were separated by injuries and sporadic improvement. But unlike swimming, which is not an impact sport, the price of unwise training in triathlons is not only mental decay, but physical as well. Something needed to change.
Just about this time, I was introduced to Dr. Phil Maffetone, who had enjoyed a good deal of success training triathletes. I was warned that his methods were probably going to sound crazy at first, but assured that they really worked. That was 1984. And, yes, at the time his philosophy on training was almost completely opposite from my “do more, faster” approach. Now it’s a new millennium, and his training techniques that once seemed crazy are almost universally accepted as the only method that will allow you to reach your peak performance year after year. Using Phil’s training program and consulting with him over the years, I have been able to rack up a long list of international triathlon victories, including six Hawaiian Ironman titles, the last of which came at age thirty-seven!
In The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing, Dr. Maffetone details the training philosophy that I have used throughout my triathlon career. If you have used these tools and techniques, you know they work. If you haven’t, welcome to what will undoubtedly be a whole new level of athletic performance. Take the time to follow his program. Leave your ego at the door, because in the short term it might seem like you aren’t going anywhere. But long term, I guarantee you will see the results you know your body is capable of.
Mark Allen is a six-time Hawaii Ironman champion and was named by Outside magazine the fittest man in the world.