Training Science Series #12 - Keeping the Ego in Check and Sticking to a Long-Term Plan
This is an article series designed to help further educate my Performance Coaching clients, but also anyone interested in learning how to train more successfully. If you are interested in getting fitter -- irrespective of whether you are a novice or regular athlete -- then please read through this series and learn more about the endurance training process. I also hope to welcome you onboard as your performance coach one day if you need mentoring to reach the summit of your athletic potential!
Understand the Process to Commit 100% to the Process
Many endurance events are dominated by hardworking, high-achieving type “A” personalities possessing enormous work ethic, mental toughness, and willpower as positive traits, but also stubbornness as a negative one. Such perseverance and mental fortitude can be an athlete’s greatest strength. Pushed by this, endurance athletes can achieve the loftiest athletic goals, which can be extremely impressive – even unfathomable – to an average sedentary person. It takes a special type of person to find enjoyment in an activity filled with a lot of effort (and sometimes suffering). Unfortunately, stubbornness and an elevated perception of current capability is why endurance sports are also dominated by so many cases of injury and burn-out. The elevated perception of current capability is often why endurance athletes end up doing more utilization – and even more capacity – training than needed.
Compulsion in anything in life tends to trend toward the unhealthy spectrum. Many people run because they are addicted to the way it makes them feel; however, when something becomes more of a need than an experience, the chances of neglecting needed rest rises dramatically. Therefore, it is not necessarily the people who train the most – or the hardest – who perform the best, but the people who train intelligently the most, who do.
When it comes to endurance sports, achieving your athletic potential does require you to give it your all, but mores in the areas relating to dedication, patience, consistency, self-education, and discipline to stay within the bounds of the specific goals of the day, week, month, and year.
Dedication must be put – not only into achievement – but also recovery. Dedication should not be equated with actual workout intensity—common to the “No Pain, No Gain” mentality that plagues endurance sports. This should come as good news to some people, because it means the optimal way to progress can actually involve less physical pain than they typically might put themselves through.
Many runners often confuse being able to run fast with being healthy, but this is not necessarily the case as health is not necessarily correlated one-to-one with high levels of fitness. Self-trained athletes, weekend warriors, and high intensity lovers are notorious for poor immune health, constant niggles or injuries, and other fatigue related issues and setbacks at far less training loads than elite athletes. These athletes think that because their training volume and training speeds are so much lower than their idols at the top of the sport, they can only achieve similar outcomes by training at similar speeds or volumes without appropriate progression to those levels.
What many people fail to realise is that a long diet of capacity training created the adaptations in the body of an elite athlete to train regularly at fast speed, but those fast speeds for the elite are actually low-intensity demands on their physiology (essentially Zone 1 and Zone 2 demands). By trying to replicate those speeds in their own training, a less conditioned athlete steps above their aerobic threshold and begins a long process of utilization training instead, thereby creating an unhealthy unproductive outcome. The only way to replicate an evolution to your highest athletic potential is to follow a similar journey of capacity training that world-class elite athletes utilise, but not similar training workouts. The workouts must be tailored to your historical training volume, and your aerobic and lactate capacities. You must be patient, place your health ahead of your ambition and look years ahead if you plan to maximise your fitness potential.