N=1

In the world of sport, we like to see absolutes. “Follow this plan to run faster! Eat this way to lose weight! Use this product to see x results in y time!” While sometimes these blanket statements can be mostly true, there’s always some element of individuality that plays a role in their effectiveness, or rather the degree of their effectiveness.

For that reason, coaching services are a popular offering in triathlon. There’s a degree of tailoring that you get which follows guidelines from the “one-size” programs while focusing on the particular needs of your body, schedule, etc. Also for that reason, forums on sites like Slowtwitch and BeginnerTriathlete contain a lot of posts saying things like “do this, don’t do that” from anonymous online persons with limited verifiable credentials (other than their own blogs… take that for what it’s worth).

Well, I’m not here to give you a “do this, don’t do that,” I’m not here to plug my coach, I’m not here to tell you not to listen to advice you get on forums (or to listen to it, either). What I’m here to tell you is to do what works for you.

Not everything works for everyone, every time. If you find something that works for you, it may not work for others. What works for others may not work for you, or may not work for you yet. Each person’s body is different, in sometimes subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways, and they change over time.

To that same point, routinization can be a pathway to complacency, and thereby backsliding. Every now and then it’s good to change things up. Whether that’s a different route, a different workout format, a different workout type altogether, or just working out at a different time, the shift in routine helps stimulate the brain.

So, just because the strength workouts you did two years ago didn’t improve your bike power, doesn’t mean you should throw strength training out as a viable or valuable training tool. The willingness of the endurance community to throw strength training out in particular, is baffling to me.

The title is how all (or at least, most) experiences shared online should be viewed, including mine. N=1 is the proposition that my experience is just that: MY experience. Your results may vary. Does that take away from the benefits I’ve experienced? Absolutely not. Does it add to benefits anyone else may experience? Maybe, but probably not.

My experience is that strength training holds a lot of value to triathletes. At least, it does to me. I’ve seen a precipitous drop in my running pace, an increase in my bike power, and a decrease in my swim time. Even more, this is all at the same body weight.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have intentions of shedding a few more pounds, but that goes hand in hand with other variables and metrics of my training. If losing another 5 lbs means that I’m slower, then I’m packing it back on. For now. I also still have intentions of increasing my strength training capacity. I have deadlift goals, I have clean and jerk goals, squat goals, etc. I have pull-up goals, plank goals, thruster goals, etc.

While there’s a lot to learn from online forums, it’s not gospel. Coincidentally, neither is my blog. I’m here reporting what I’m doing, and how it works for me. So go forth and try new things, lift heavy, run far, eat keto, only cut your hair under a full moon, whatever works for you. That’s my N=1.

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