Painting The Fence Joe Friel Style For Great Endurance Training Advice

Great endurance training exercise tips from Joe Friel in his book Going Long

Great endurance training insights and advice, from Joe Friel.

The best exercise tip I ever received was from Joe Friel.

I suspect that Mr. Myagi in The Karate Kid (loved that movie!) got it both right and wrong when it came to endurance training.

RIGHT: Make your sport part of your life and your life part of your sport.

WRONG: Too much too soon, as he should have shown ‘The Karate Kid’ how to pace his painting so as to enjoy rather than suffer the exercise.

I think that suffering training is overrated, not to say that there is not a little pain involved from time-to-time. I prefer a safe exercise for better health, with fun being a key ingredient, especially if you are recovering from abdominal aortic surgery or you are an older person wanting to stay in shape.

The problem with learning to be an endurance athlete initially is that one doesn’t realize that it is a way of life, not just something to make you look good, something to ‘win,’ or something to do at the weekend. In the final stages of Ironman preparation you’ll be training 15 to 25 hours a week, not to mention stretching, icing (if needed), and fixing your gear, plus working and raising kids (a job that is never done?).¬† I now find that I weave my life around my training and I intertwine my training through my life. I can’t imagine it any other way right now. It doesn’t feel like hard work, or a job to do, it is just ‘painting the fence’ at the right pace for me, and finding that pace is a long-term job. That is where we return to Joe Friel’s Styrofoam cup, the best exercise tip I ever received.

My first response was to go buy some and give it a try, and try it I did, which was interesting and surprisingly informative. It took me three attempts, and I made two of classic errors that occurred during my triathlon training over the last 12 years. Here is the evidence:

Cup #1: I rushed in, didn’t notice that the base of the cup is very thin, and thus at risk, just like my knees! That is how I had my second knee surgery (first due to a skiing accident!), running on tired legs thinking I was unbreakable.

Cup 1 – I split the cup in about 30 seconds due to rushing in without thinking adequately. I should have explored the cup more carefully!

Cup #2: This time I was half way through the ‘cup prolapse’ process, my son turned up, I put the cup in my coat pocket while we had lunch, and when I reached into my coat for my wallet, bam, I broke the cup. My error was that of inattention, which can get you killed on the road, or into the hospital when you run, especially if you are tired.

Cup 2 was half prolapsed and I broke it whilst reaching into my pocket, committing the error of inattention.

Cup #3: This time I made it, but it took some time. I plan to explore this tool to find other errors, as this is an excellent learning tool for the neophyte or more experienced endurance athlete.

Cup #3 Left cup is a control, and the right one is completely ‘prolapsed (turned inside out) but you can see stress lines at the junction of the base with the side. Took about 10 minutes!

Thank you Joe and Mr. Myagi,

-k @FitOldDog



  1. sue Hayden says

    Good writing, I liked your insight, giving yourself permission to be cautious in your pursuit. Now I have a painful left knee that won’t go away! looking for your weekly workouts. I cant find where I clink to see them.

  2. Kevin Morgan says

    Hi! Sue,
    The workout migrated down a few pages as I made it non-sticky. I’ll be linking this blog to soon and that should help.

  3. Great post. Applies to all sports and conditioning.

  4. nick young says

    kevin mr. myagi had a deadline!

  5. Kevin Morgan says

    Hi! Nick,
    You’re right, Mr. Myagi had a deadline, just a month or so, I think, whilst older athletes have a deadline of another kind, but hopefully a lot longer than a month or so! Furthermore, Daniel LaRusso was pretty young, so I guess he could learn faster than an old dog. But old dogs can learn new tricks, I am pleased to say, but they do have to get on with it as time does run out eventually! Thanks for pointing out the error in my comment on the Karate Kid’s training program, and far be it from me to criticize Mr. Myagi.
    With apologies!
    Old Dog

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.