No athlete should put 100% into every training and expect progress. Those following a progressive programme should have hard, medium and easy weeks to ensure their body can prepare for and recover from the hardest training weeks.
Are you Thinking in Training Weeks?
Most runners I encounter decide how fast and far to run based on how they feel during the first 5-10minutes of their run.
Feel good = Run further and faster…right?
These runners will often fluctuate between feeling really good and really bad before any chosen run. If they’re feeling good it’s generally because they’ve been forced into a recovery through work, family, injury or illness. They attack their training with these mantras ringing strong:
Go Hard or Go Home!
It’s all in your head!
No Pain, No Gain!
Just do it!
They’ll pull out some fantastically fast runs because they’re full of potential but are on a crash course with their weakest link. Everyone has one but weaknesses only show up when stressed sufficiently. They fade into the shadows with rest but look forward to the next opportunity to mess things up.
The most common examples includes muscle and joint pains, usually caused by poor running technique and everyday movement mechanics. Consistently hard training requires your body to draw resources from your immune system, leaving you exposed to the ever present cold and flu bugs which your system is continually battling.
For some it’s the fitness plateau which comes far too soon and kills off any motivation built in the first couple of weeks. If you haven’t experienced this one try running ParkRun expecting a personal best time every weekend. The law of diminishing returns ensures that we only progress to a certain level before improvements slow down and stop.
Running with a group who constantly stick to the same pace and distance will lead to the same result!
How to Prevent Running Plataeus and Over-training Injuries
This is a big topic and there are many answers which are outlined in Our Training Philosophy but holding something back can help. Break your training calendar (an excel spreadsheet will do) into weeks which progress in distance and or speed gradually. Include an easy week at least once a month to ensure your body gets a chance to adapt to the moderate and hard weeks.
Get this right and you’ll learn how to make continual progress and peak for high priority events.
If you think this is a little too much planning for a social runner. Know that the world’s top Olympic Athletes hold back enough to prevent plataeus from occurring until the next Olympics. Promising youth’s will be held back enough to hit absolute peak for an Olympics up to 8 years away. While you’re not prepared to think that far ahead this insight should carry some weight when you decide how much to put your body through in the first week back from forced recovery.
The CRC Progressive Programme makes the most of these principles with the aim of providing regular attendees a pace group increase every 14 weeks.
So what’s your weakest link?
Let us know what happens when you train too much and how you plan on utilising this article.