– Scientifically based –
Remember the most basic law of training? Optimal stress plus optimal rest equals optimal progress. Progress towards what? Progress toward your goal. Think about it. Optimal progress depends on your goals. In other words, if your primary goal is to run a specific time in a specific marathon that is 24 weeks away, then focus your training on that goal. Create a program designed to reach peak fitness on marathon race day.
Sure, you can take a risk, over-train, and get really fast 12 weeks from the marathon...but then what? Trying to maintain that level of fitness, for 12 more weeks is risky and it could lead to injury or illness...and it might happen one week before the marathon...ouch! Remember your goal and keep your eyes on the prize!
Optimal progress: Training to recover
Suppose you changed your training focus from training hard; to training to recover. It's a subtle, but significant difference. In other words, instead of running a bit too hard on your hard day (because you can) and then running a bit too hard on your easy day (again, because you can); focus on your recovery days. Think about using your recovery days to prepare yourself for the next workout.
Then, when you're doing your hard workout, think about how much time you have to recover. Push hard, but not so hard that you can't recover and do it again.
Sub-optimal vs. optimal training
Let's take a look at a typical training week and compare optimal vs. sub-optimal training philosophy. Suppose the schedule is to do a hard workout on Tuesday and Thursday, run easy the other days and include a long slow distance run on the week-end.
Think about the assumption I've just made. Do you agree with it? If so, then keep reading. If not, read the assumption again...☺
Sub-optimal training - Your training partner
Suppose you and your training partner are currently equal in ability and fitness. Further, suppose your training partner pushes a bit hard. She is determined to "beat" you in most, if not all, of your training runs. Some of her sub-optimal workouts might include:
If she does this week after week, she's probably thinking that come race day, she'll beat you then too. And, if she doesn't get injured, her body is likely to adapt to the point where she sees improvement. Heck she may see a PR in a few races. But if she keeps it up, the law of averages will get her. The increased risk of injury or illness or overtraining will eventually break her down.
Optimal training - You
Now suppose you follow the most basic law of training. Here's what happens.
Week after week, your progress will be incremental but steady. Your risk of injury and/or illness will be minimized and your technique and form will improve because your workouts are comfortably hard...not death marches that you can barely complete. Yep, your training partner will still "beat" you in the training runs...maybe even beat you in some races.
Optimal progress and results
Race day is here. You've trained optimally for this day; you're tapered and ready to run your best. And, although your training partner has tapered right along with you, her body is just a bit more beat up than yours (due to all the over training and under resting). She doesn't even know it as she's beaten you in all the training runs...and maybe even a couple of insignificant races leading up to the big race.
Who do you think will win this race? If you believe that you'll beat your training partner in this story, then start training to recover NOW!
Send mail to
questions or comments about this