How to Create Multi-Year Development Plans, with Dr. Stephen Seiler and Sondre Skarli

Certain physiological gains only happen after years of development. We discuss how to design training plans that look two or more years ahead.

A cyclist rides near Niwot, Colorado. Sepia.
Photo: Chris Case

What a strange and chaotic year it’s been. Despite the disruption to our lives, times like these afford us an opportunity to look farther ahead. It just may be that, from a training and racing point of view, this is just what some of us have needed.

That’s because, sometimes, you can see greater gains by looking not just at next year, but by gazing two or three years up the road. Whether you’re just starting in endurance sports, or unsure of what 2021 holds, looking through a telescope rather than a microscope can help you develop in new and powerful ways.

There are certain physiological gains that take mere weeks to develop. We’ve touched upon those elsewhere. On the other hand, some very important changes will only take place over the course of years: your aerobic engine or stamina, for example, which involves structural changes.

So if you have the opportunity to look farther ahead than ever before, how do you create the right training plan? Must you give up racing? How do you measure progress on this timescale? How big a role does trust in the plan play in proper execution? How much volume can you safely add over the course of two or three seasons? Those questions and so much more on today’s episode.

Our guests are the renowned Dr. Stephen Seiler and one of his Norwegian colleagues, Sondre Skarli. You’ve heard Dr. Seiler on the program many times before, but Sondre will be new to this audience.

Formerly an elite speed skater and one of Dr. Seiler’s students, Sondre is now a sports scientist consultant at the Norwegian Olympic Committee and Federation of Sports—basically he’s a great coach on the Norwegian national team, working with a diverse set of endurance athletes. Of note, he became the head coach of the Norwegian speed skating team at the age of 28.

This episode is very conversational; we’ll take our tangents. But there are a great number of important points throughout the show. And with that, let’s make you fast!

Episode Transcript

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