Charles Allen: A slow and steady approach to training reaps most reward
© 2013 Mark Hewlett
How did your January go?
Is the training starting to yield results you expected or are you finding just new niggles developing?
It is such a tough time for many.
I remember when I first started training 15stone 8lbs and a 40+ inch waist. I was only 13 at the time.
Nothing seemed to be working but I always remember my dad talking about Russian farmer fitness - my dad was a PT in the army for 35 years and was a strong man who could work tirelessly from dawn to dusk. A "real work horse" you could say.
He believed in steady loading, not moving forward until the current overload at the time became easy.
Perhaps if you are finding things are getting tough and the aches are a little more than you can realistically handle you should consider this method.
Do not think for one moment this is breaking you away from your end goal but simply learning from the journey you are on. This is a great tool to develop.
The ability to be critical of personal decisions without demoralising yourself. Perhaps start to look differently at trying to set new levels but simply making the level you are at easy before adding an extra rep or increasing pace.
In western society we love to cycle our training. This is the method used by so many of our sport stars, but we must remember these people are seasoned trainers and have spent many years training before having coaches and scientists monitor them so closely.
Furthermore, they do not have to continue with other daily chores. Many athletes will take themselves away from family and friends to undergo "up cycle" training. For many of us we continue working our 9-5 jobs with family duties and other commitments that demand energy and time.
Perhaps it isn't even the training? It could be the lifestyle you live has not changed enough to allow you to recover between sessions.
If you are training harder but still missing sleep it will catch up with you and the endocrine system will start to break down.
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Palov and many other conditioning coaches discuss the simple theory of how the health of the body will break down in a similar way to having a cold if we train at a level that affects our hormones and natural cycles too much, too quickly.
It works both ways if you want to train harder, you need to focus more on quality rest periods between these stimulating bouts.
It took me six years to build my fitness to a level I felt I had achieved.
I am often amazed at the demands people place on themselves to start running and within six months run a marathon.
It would suggest many of these people will lose their fitness quickly if they do not continue to train post marathon.
Whereas people who build their base levels over a longer period tend to not reverse so much with rest.
Perhaps if you are able to get to a high potential but find yourself going backwards quickly when you have a break it simply demonstrates you raise your levels too sharply and you do not spend enough time trying to consolidating gains.
If you find this yo-yo affect depresses you it might be better to set goals over a 2-5-year period rather than this quick gain method.
The one thing we can say is there are plenty of ways to train to get your goals.
Many coaches will have their own way, as do many individuals.
I would argue for performance it is tough to say which is the best. However, if we want to do this for a long time, and continue to develop to our true potential, the slow and steady method still seems to be the one that comes up trumps.
Whether you have the patience, the ability to commit for longer periods, only you can answer this.
Personally, I only really enjoy coaching these types. It means I often leave working with someone knowing that in a few years I can still see them enjoying their new levels of fitness.
Some are at the same level, but many have learnt new adaptations to improve performance goals. Their base is so healthy they can handle the cycling training many so often start with and come a cropper.