The most misunderstood aspect of physical training is the ratio of easy, moderate and hard. If you are struggling with a plateau in performance, don’t look at how much, look at what and when.
The what is critical, still even now, as a collective, triathletes tend to struggle with knowing the difference between moderate and easy. We are long on agitation and short on patience!
We want it now and moderate whispers in our ears that progress is more available to ego and pushing than it is to easy and relaxed. 80% of that progress, though, is available to you through conditioning and that takes place in the full presence of oxygen.
If you can’t breathe through your nose, then you are heading towards moderate, not easy. Moderate is a range that you train specifically to enhance aerobic speed, strength and stimulation of aerobic threshold.
That can and should become hard enough to create good speed at a low aerobic cost.
If you are constantly in the moderate range, you are not only losing the underpinning foundation of relaxed low intensity, you are cutting your aerobic speed off at the knees due to the neuromuscular fatigue you are creating.
Now, if you are full of moderate volume, you are not going to hit the registers at the top end either. That is exactly how you end up on a plateau and in a tailspin about how to get out of it.
Often, when athletes hit a plateau, they do the opposite of what is required and push for more moderate junk and continue to underperform at the top end. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy of stall and a circuitry that needs to be broken.
Relax, breathe easily and condition that engine fully and you will find your performance change as the speed starts to come in the presence of oxygen rather than feeling like you are trying to breathe through a straw.