Millennium Running Club – Winter Session Training Tip 3
Do you want to get faster? Are you tired of those nagging injuries?
If so, this article is for you…too bad I don’t follow my own advice sometimes…ouch! The three principles of training are overload, progression, and specificity. Let’s look at each one and help define them for you.
Overload, in running terms is defined as pushing your body to do more than it is used to doing. It is also known as “stressing your body” or “getting out of your comfort zone.” It’s human nature to avoid stress and remain in your comfort zone. But in terms of running, all you will ever achieve is a baseline running pace that never gets any faster. If you can live with that, it’s o.k. You are exercising for health, not competition. And don’t forget, competition can be against an opponent, the clock, or the course.
Progression is a very important component when linked to overload. We only need to overload the body by a small amount in order for it to adapt and get stronger. When overloading the body, we will also need to back off and allow some rest to occur after the stress. This could mean a day off from running after a “stress day,” or we could run very slowly over a short distance. Stress + Rest = Improvement. The key words out of all of this are “overloading gradually” with “rest or recovery.” It will take about 7 to10 days for the body to adapt to the overload. Once the body has adapted, it is time to stress it again with a new overload.
Specificity refers to the type of exercise you are doing. If you are cycling quite a bit and running just a little, you probably will see improvements in your cycling more than your running. When swimming for training, you will become a better swimmer. When cycling for training, you will become a better cyclist. When running, you will become a better runner. Get the point? Be specific. This does not mean that you should not do additional work with yoga, weights, or
other forms of cross training. However, primary workouts and time need to be directed toward your running program.
So how do we overload? It is called the FIT formula.
F = Frequency = How many days per week are you running?
I = Intensity = How hard are you running (heart rate can be a good indicator)?
T = Time = How long are you running per training session?
It is very important to know that an overload or stress to the body can occur when either one of the above is changed. For instance, when adding an additional day of running (frequency), this IS a new stress to the body. When running faster or when running up hills (intensity), this IS a new stress to the body. When increasing the (time) or miles per training session, this IS a new stress to the body. Seldom do we want to change more than one component at a time. If you add an additional day of running per week, keep everything else the same for a week. If you decide to do speed work, keep everything else the same for a week or two. When increasing the length of your run, choose just one day to do so, and keep everything else the same for a week. BEWARE-When trying to “cheat” by doing too much, too soon, you will be inviting an injury.
So here is the bottom line. If we want to become faster runners, we have to run. In order to improve our running, we need to overload. In order for the overload to work, we need to overload gradually and let our bodies rest after the overload. Once this adaptation occurs, then we need to provide more overload plus rest, and so on. Take your time, set goals, be patient, and avoid injury. Mother Nature will take care of everything. The Darwin Law of Adaptation?