The principles of effort based training. (Part 1)

Any schedule is but a guideline. To be implemented effectively it’s important to understand and apply the principles behind the method rather than blindly following the numbers.

The five principles are:

  • Preparation
  • aerobic development
  • Muscular adaptation
  • Biofeedback (listening to your body)
  • The journey (taking your yourself from base to peak) Individual application (when a workout works best)

All athletes, no matter their fitness level should start with the preparation phase. Preparing yourself for the training you are about to undergo physically and mentally, should never be taken lightly.

Your fitness level will dictate how long and what kind of preparation phase you should go through. For example; an if you’re an entry level athlete, one who was never attempted marathon training and whose fitness may be very minimal, you need to have a longer preparation phase. This phase could be as long as 6 to 8 weeks. During the preparation phase you prepare for the stresses you are about to undergo in the training phases to follow. Workouts during the preparation phase should include very easy runs, strength and flexibility workouts.

Keep in mind that a preparation phase can also follow a long season after an experienced athlete has done there “A” race, accomplished your goals and need a little downtime. The preparation phase is a great way to get experienced athletes strengthened and conditioned to move forward toward their next goal.

You can’t build a solid foundation until you first built the road into the house. Develop a plan by first assessing your strengths and weaknesses.
Next, set long-term goals and short term goals to measure progress (make sure to write them down) Are they realistic and achievable?

Address your equipment needs. Check your body alignment. Check your running form.

Evaluate your swim technique
Evaluate your cycling skills
Look back at your medical medical history.
Look at your previous training cycles and where you experienced difficulties.

Always keep in mind the more you know about you by self-assessment before you start your program the better you’ll be able to develop a successful program.

Aerobic conditioning as the foundation: Lydiard, Friel and Maffetone to mention a few, recognized aerobic development as being of prime importance to athletic performance and the foundation of all event specific training.

The bottom line is the foundation of any training program, regardless of your goal or ability, should be the development of a solid aerobic base. It’s the fundamental structure used by almost every elite runner, and triathlete.

The chart that is pictured signifies the percentage of aerobic or anaerobic contribution it takes to compete at certain distances. While this chart shows distances that are short for the average person reading this, the conclusions are none the less astounding.

Simply put the bigger the base the higher the peak.

Aerobic development plays 6 major roles in your development and training.

1) The first roll is assessing your training parameters; in other words knowing your heart rate and target training zones. Once you have established your training parameters then you can begin the process of a proper aerobic development plan or strategy.

2) Aerobic development increases the body’s mitochondria and capillaries. Mitochondria are often referred to as the power houses of the cells. They generate the energy that our cells need to do their jobs. For example brain cells need a lot of energy to be able to communicate with each other and also to communicate with parts of the body that may be far away. To do this substances need to be transported along the cells which need lots of energy. Muscle fibers also need a lot of energy to help us move, maintain our posture and lift objects.

Capillaries are tiny blood vessels connecting the small arteries to the small veins. These tiny blood vessels carry oxygen and nutrients to all the cells in the body.

So again in its simplest form developing an aerobic base increases the mitochondria and the capillaries in the body. This increases the body’s ability to produce energy for more sustained periods and transport more oxygen to the working muscles.

3) Developing the aerobic base also develops slow twitch fibers. Slow twitch fibers are the fibers that allow us to work longer to fatigue.

4) Developing an aerobic base strengthens the musculoskeletal system.

5) Developing an aerobic base teaches the body how to burn fat more efficiently for fuel.

6) And lastly developing an aerobic base prepares the body for the harder race specific training to follow.

The second principle of effort based training is response regulated adaptation.

Any training program should not be controlled by predetermined values but rather by how your body is responding to the training and adjusted accordingly.

Keep in mind we are all individuals, we all respond to the stresses of training differently. We all respond to recovery differently. This may be one of the most important keys to successful training. Understanding exactly how you are recovering and responding to the stresses of your training cycle.

The third principle of effort based training is feeling based training.

Learn to accurately interpret the language of your physiology and develop a rapport with your internal feedback systems. You can do this mindfully by teaching yourself how tuned in you are how you feel while training. Then post run you can look at that feeling and the actual numbers and correlate the two. Learn to distinguish the stimulus of stretching your training. Did you learn to distinguish a stimulus of stretching a training envelope from the stress of overtraining for the pain of developing injury. Teach yourself how to truly understand how it feels to run, swim or bike aerobically, and anaerobically.

Tune into your body and learn how to trust how you feel.

The fourth principle of aerobic based training is sequential development.

One development comes after another; from the lower intensity and higher volumes of general conditioning to the higher intensity and lower volume of specific event skills. Each development has to be placed in the correct phase in order to obtain optimal results.

The fifth principle of effort based training is timing.

In both training and peaking for competition timing is everything. The content of the work out is as often not as important as when it is placed in the overall training plan. A poorly timed workout can have completely the opposite effect of what was intended.

Keep in mind it’s not always the best athlete who wins championships but the best prepared athlete. The ability to peak on the day that counts is dependent on being able to harness and coordinate the various rhythms of adaptations and the principles of effort based training toward your goal.

Be Healthy, Train Smart, Have Fun

Coach Jeff

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