Friday, July 29, 2016

Training Is A Collective Not A Singularity

Training for running is a collective, not a singularity.  No one workout is overly important but each has their own place.

FootLocker South Region 2011

It is important to remember in training that no one workout is paramount, but rather it is the collective of all the workouts in the cycle that comes together to improve fitness and produce results. 

In each of our stress workouts we do we are targeting 1 or more physiological systems for adaptations to increase different aspects of your fitness. These adaptations do not come in big chunks but rather gradually and over time.  So a BIG key in training is consistency (one of my 5 tenets of training) because it is not so much 1 workout but stringing together whole series of workouts over weeks and months that produce the adaptations we are seeking.  So if we do a good tempo workout this week, and then another solid one next week ,and another solid one the week after, then we'll start seeing some adaptations taking place and improvements in our stamina.  But if that cycle is interrupted then what you get is a stagnation in adaptations at best, or at worst a regression (loss of adaptation) if the interruption is too long or repeated frequently enough.  This is the sinister physical side of a missed workout or workouts you give up on.  You are interrupting the adaptation process and if you don't end up getting in enough work, you'll experience stagnation or regression in fitness.  

One example where this is easiest to see is long runs.  Most of us know from experience that if we haven't done a long run in a few weeks our first one back is harder than it was previously as our endurance has regressed.  But if we are consistent for a while and string some together on consecutive weekends then they become easier and we can handle doing more or faster on them (adaptations having taken place).

So yes, each time we do a stress workout we want to have a great workout, but we need to make sure that at the very least we get in some good solid work, so we can keep the consistency alive and the progressions coming.  Because how we continue to get fitter is by being consistent and letting these adaptations happen and pile up over time.   We are much better off with a string of solid but unspectacular workouts, than we are a few home runs each followed by a series of workout DNF's. 

Judging Workouts
With this in mind (string together workouts), it is a good remember that the time on the watch does not determine if a workout is a success or failure. If you give the effort and execute the purpose of the workout fairly well, you will get the benefits of it regardless of what the watch might say. Your body doesn't know what the clock says, it only knows how hard you work and what systems you stressed with that effort and that is what brings the benefits. So remember to use your watch as a tool and not as the judge or mental task master, focus instead on proper effort and execution and string together training over the course of a cycle and you'll get the most from your training.

Happy Running

Coach Mark Hadley