By Magda Nieuwoudt
Why do we train? What is the exact reason that you find yourself planning your day around “training hour”? Or why is it that you plan weekends and holidays around your training schedule? I can bore you with all the hormonal excretion that happens and what causes your addiction to training. But do you truly understand the term exercise? Do you know the reason for it?
If you look up the word 'training' or 'exercise', you will find these key words: “to improve” or “to maintain”. Nowhere do you find the words – “achieve” or “compare”. With coaching different types of athletes, it is interesting to see how athletes approach training sessions differently.
You might associate with one of the following types of athletes:
i. You either squeeze in the session and shorten your warm-up, or not even bother with the cool down;
ii. You cannot decide what effort to cycle or run on, especially with the wide range of data focus that is given to you. You need that precise number so you can achieve exactly that;
iii. You are not even bothered by reading the full workout, and halfway through start doing your own thing. Because, if you just get to the total time or distance scheduled, you did it;
iv. You don't feel well but you still get the session done because you are scared the coach might think you are not doing your part; or
v. Maybe you are the athlete that is doing everything by the book, exactly as the program suggested. Not a minute longer or shorter. Not a watt more or less.
No matter where you find yourself in between these examples, the point is the session gets done and Training Peaks shows you have a green week. But the question is, did you improve during the session or did you only achieve?
Isn't that what I want as a coach anyway? Athletes that are achieving the goals of each session. NO!!!
I want athletes that understand WHY they are doing the session and how it fits into their bigger picture. Training is not just achieving the goals set out, as goals and metrics in fact limit us. If I ask you to give a max effort for 30 seconds, there is no way I can put a number to what your max effort would be during the session. Because max effort means the maximum effort that you have, and can give, during that specific interval. If your max effort is 250 watts, and not your normal 300 watts, then that is your max effort for that day! It doesn't mean that you are not improving and that you are the weakest you have ever been. It simply means that you are out of gas today but still improved muscularly and metabolically on what you had in you for the day. Same goes for doing long runs, for instance. I always say, you need that shit run to have better runs tomorrow or the next week. Remember, your body needs to stimulate and awaken a lot of physiological factors, in and around the muscle fibre to start improving from the load and volume given to it. Sometimes an extra recovery run or swim on a long bike or run day is given to you - you think that there is no way you can do this session, your body is tired and you need to recover... uhm that is your recovery! I did not give you that session thinking you are going to feel good or that you’ll improve anything other than blood-flow through the muscle.
My point that I want to get to is - start trusting your own body and start being in sync with what you’re doing! For once, do not run or indoor bike with music and just listen to your body… listen to your breathing and feel if you are working with the right muscles. Are you pushing and pulling on the bike? Do you have good posture on the run with feet striking right underneath you? How is your posture during long run or bike sessions and what can you do to be more efficient? What can you change other than just pushing through because you need to finish 90 minutes of running to achieve and tick off the session?
Trust us as coaches to generate the best possible program specifically for you. Understand terms like slow, easy, recovery, steady and fast. Try to improve with each session, no matter what the data says. Why do you think consistent training leads to success? It is just the everyday improvement. If you don't understand your program, then the following is important… Ask us!
I can give the same program to 10 different athletes, with the same capability and talent and their outcomes would still be different because it all depends on how each session is being done.
No matter what the metabolic, nervous system or physiological adaptations were during a training session, the biggest improvements would come if the psychological improvement was there as well. I am definitely not saying that you can just believe in yourself and you'll be fit, you need to put in the work, but you need to believe that you are getting the work done properly.
Go and improve in every training session so you can achieve during races!
That is what training is for.
This blog is written by the coach and athletes associated with Trivium.