You have your goal race set. You have high expectations for yourself. You’re putting in countless training hours, pushing yourself to the limits, and consistently reaching for that next personal best. So why is it not paying off on race day?
Unfortunately, this is a common story. We have high hopes with lofty goals in mind, but have hit a plateau. We continue to push ourselves in training, but our race times won’t budge.
Why does this happen? Why is the hard work not paying off?
There are several potential reasons for this, but the most common one that I see is that athlete’s don’t keep their easy days, easy enough. This may seem counterintuitive, but stay with me for a moment.
Exercise at its fundamental level is a stress to our body. One that can have very beneficial effects obviously, but only when our body is given a chance to adapt to and recover from the stress it is put under (you may hear the phrase “absorb the fitness”). Basically, the more difficult the exercise the higher the stress on our system and the more it takes for us to recover. (Quality sleep and nutrition are super important here, but thats a topic for another day)
The problem that I see frequently is athletes pushing themselves too hard, too often without adequate recovery. This is the basis for why they find themselves in a constant loop of hard training without hitting their goals. Too often, we are crunched for time and trying to maximize every session and end up treating every training session like it is a race (I’m definitely guilty of this). In my experience, I thought if I wasn’t doubled over and barely breathing at the end of every training session, I didn’t go hard enough. This is a big mistake, and one that can lead to a rollercoaster of injuries leading to inconsistent training, or worse, having to take time off completely (I learned this the hard way).
So how can you break through this plateau and achieve your desired goals?
Keep your easy days, easy, and your hard days, hard!
Why is this important?
In order to get faster, we know that consistency in training is key. High quality, consistent training, over a long period of time is a solid recipe for success. When we keep our easy days, easy, we are able to train consistently while allowing our bodies to recover in order to push harder on our key training sessions.
There is a time and a place throughout the season where training under fatigue is useful/necessary, but a well designed training plan should consist of “easy” days and “hard” days. It’s up to us as athletes and coaches to keep them that way in order to maximize our potential to reach our race goals.
More to come on how to design a quality training plan.
Whether you want to cross the finish line for the first time or you are looking to set a new personal best, we are here to help. For more information on how you can reach the starting line of your next race healthier and fitter than ever, email email@example.com or message us directly on Instagram @pro-activity_ohio.