Matt Speaking

Coming Soon: Endurance Mastery

About a year ago, David Warden persuaded me to create an online course that would serve as an athlete-focused companion to the 80/20 Endurance coach certification program. It would teach athletes everything they need to know about how to train effectively for endurance performance, starting, of course, with the 80/20 intensity balance.

I say “persuaded” because I didn’t really want to do it. You see, I’ve been writing about endurance training since 1995, coaching endurance athletes since 2001. For me, teaching athletes how to train effectively for endurance fitness and performance is a great big case of “been there, done that.” As I’m sure you know, creating an online course is a lot of work, and I dreaded the work required to create the rudimentary course David proposed. Nevertheless, I agreed with David’s view that it made sense from a business standpoint, so I rolled up my sleeves and started the project in good faith.

Long story short, I didn’t get very far. The problem wasn’t just that I lacked the motivation to build an entire course of instruction on endurance training. It was also that I felt a strong desire to build an entirely different kind of course that addressed what I perceived as a far greater need in the endurance space: namely, the need for a comprehensive resource on how to reach one’s full potential as an endurance athlete.

Now, you might be thinking, “Isn’t instruction on how to train effectively the very thing that endurance athletes need to reach their full potential?” Good question, and the answer is no. Training instruction is one thing that athletes need to fulfill 100 percent of their natural ability, but not the main thing. Plenty of athletes receive good instruction on how to train and nevertheless fall short of becoming as good at their sport as they can possibly be because they are missing other important pieces.

Only a tiny fraction of endurance athletes reach their full potential. Those who do have one thing in common, which is an exceptional capacity to self-regulate within the sporting context. Self-regulation, is just a fancy term for the ability to control one’s thoughts, emotions, and actions in ways that serve ones goals. The road to fulfilling athletic potential is paved with decisions, some of them small, others big. At the end of this road lies endurance mastery, a state where athletes consistently make good decisions with confidence by virtue of having developed a strong capacity to self-regulate.

Goals are central to the endurance sports experience. But where do they lead? Endurance mastery is the goal that lies behind all other goals (setting PB’s, placing in one’s age group, etc.), which function as mere stepping stones toward the overarching ambition of becoming as good as one can be at one’s sport. What surprises me is how seldom athletes and coaches talk about this idea of fulfilling 100 percent of innate potential. There are innumerable books, articles, podcasts, videos, and courses concerning specific methods of improvement, yet not a single one (that I’m aware of) that focuses squarely on the underlying point of these methods.

Until now, I hasten to add. For what started off as a good-faith effort to satisfy David Warden’s request for an athlete-focused companion to the 80/20 Endurance coaching certification course has morphed into a course that addresses the need for a comprehensive resource on how to reach one’s full potential as an endurance athlete and how to help athletes reach their full potential as a coach.

Endurance Mastery is a bit of a departure for me creatively. I built my reputation through the written word, whereas this course is entirely video-based. At 51,246 words, the script I’ve written is close to book-length, but instead of letting these words lie passively on the page I will deliver them verbally on camera. Filming starts in November in two separate locations. A course overview and short introductions to the five modules that make up the course will be filmed in the style of a TED Talk at a theater in Flagstaff, Arizona, where I live. The 20 lessons that comprise the heart of the course will be filmed in the style of a Masterclass at Dream Run Camp (aka my house).

Each module deals with a particular phase in the athlete development process, beginning with the motivation phase, where the athlete cultivates the passion and hunger that drive them toward mastery, and culminating in the challenge phase, where athletes who have almost or already reached their full potential strive for further growth and learning, and where the coach’s role is no longer to teach but to challenge (hence the name of the phase). Each lesson is followed by an implementation-intention exercise that prompts learners to explain how they intend to use what they’ve learned as an athlete or as a coach. There will also be an interactive component, where learners have the opportunity to talk to me and each other about the material during live online video calls.

I want to underscore that my Endurance Mastery course is intended for both athletes and coaches, offering equal value to both groups. Athletes who complete the course will come away with a clear roadmap to mastery, while coaches will come away with concrete tools to use in guiding athletes through the development process. If all goes well, the course will be made publicly available in February 2024. When we get a little closer to the release date, an interest list will be made available, as well as updates on pricing and other elements of the course.

At the risk of jinxing myself, I’ll conclude by saying that I’m really jazzed about Endurance Mastery. Creating it has been one of the most satisfying challenges of my career, and I have high hopes for the impact it will have on athletes and coaches like you.