“We are all athletes!” Some of us just choose to train more seriously than others. Whether you are running sixteen or twenty-seven minute 5k’s you have put in the time and effort worthy of the title athlete. There are many misconceptions on what exactly constitutes an athlete. The three most common fallacies revolve around age, ability, and awards. An athlete is not defined by how old they are, how fast they run, or the number of awards they’ve obtained. Everyone that competes is an athlete and here is some information to make your training time as productive as possible in that pursuit. There are numerous strategies that an athlete and their coach can adopt to improve their running performance and remain injury free. The proper implementation of a periodized, energy system based training program can be the difference between injury, average, and results beyond your wildest dreams. By developing an understanding of your three main energy systems you can then be assured that you are providing the body with an appropriate variation in training stimulus. How you choose to vary this system stimulus will then be represented in your periodization scheme. By manipulating training stress in a strategic manner we provoke a physiological response that results in a positive adaptation to training stress. This adaptive response is what will be primarily responsible for staying injury free and improvements in your future running performances.
Periodization models: The method of alternating training loads, intensities and recovery to produce peak performance for a specific season or competitive athletic event. ( linear, non-linear, and undulating non-linear )
Training stimulus/stress: The prescribed activity given to the athlete to facilitate positive adaptation to the physiological system. ( running, strength training, rope intervals, cross training, biking, swimming )
Adaptation: A positive or negative change ( preferably positive ) produced as a result of the prescribed training stimulus.
Volume: The amount of training stimulus being applied to the athlete in their training program. ( length of run, number of repetitions or sets, daily or weekly training mileage )
Intensity: The degree of physiological/psychological stress placed on the athlete by the training stimulus. ( resistance, weight, pace, speed, duration )
Recovery: The time allotted in the training program in between workouts, cycles, and races that assures that the body gets an opportunity to adapt favorably to training loads. ( This is the most commonly overlooked and under appreciated dynamic in the training process. )
Every athlete is an individual and will respond differently to training stimulus. The goal is to figure out how to get the individual to respond as efficiently as possible to the training program. The most common problem that I see in running programs is that there is little structure and too much is left to random chance. A structured approach to how you program can keep you and your athletes injury free and achieving their goals when it counts most.
Linear Periodization: (LP) This training initially uses high volume and low intensity. The training for LP progresses through mesocycles or phases where the volume decreases, and intensity increases.
Non-Linear Periodization: (NLP) This is known as the conjugate method and varies training volume and intensity in shorter periods of time, and occurs frequently from training session to training session. NLP links two or more qualities that need to be developed, such as speed, endurance, and power.
Non-Linear Undulating Periodization: This scheme includes a variety of workout types or energy system stimulus on a weekly or in some cases even daily basis.
Whether you adopt a more traditional, linear approach or a non-linear strategy a structured plan will provide optimal results. The strategically planned variations in volume and intensity are the key for continued athletic development over time in the athlete. This adaptation will directly translate to increases in strength, stamina, and endurance while stimulating decreases in weight, body fat. By strategically addressing these different training variables we can all provoke that inner athlete inside of us. Your participation and commitment define your athletic status not your performance, place, or time.