To reach your potential as a distance runner, you need to develop these key areas:
- endurance base
- lactate threshold
- maximum aerobic capacity - VO2 max
- basic speed
- running technique
If you’ve trained for a marathon, you probably only focussed on improving your endurance base and paid little attention to the other 4 necessary training areas. But to improve your overall running performance, you should incorporate all of these components into your training schedule – in the balance that’s right for you.
Your body adapts to the stresses of training slowly and over a period of time. Physiological adaptations can’t be rushed, although you can design your training to optimize the process.
Adaptations in your muscles occur over months and years and you need to think long term. The minimum time before you’ll start to see an improvement from training is about 6 weeks.
Your training load is a combination of your training distance, intensity and how many runs you do each week. Your body can only develop in line with moderate increases in training load, if you keep increasing the load during a short period of time.
For instance, over a few years you can double or even triple your running distance, but increasing it too much and too quickly leads to injury, illness and over-tiredness. Therefore, it’s best to limit changes in your distance, intensity or frequency to no more than once a week.
Sometimes, guys train hard every day trying to cover all the components of their training programme. This is a common mistake and will slow your progress down. Rest days are essential to allow the body to develop and adapt and speed up your progress.
When you train hard you provide the stimulus to improved fitness, but your body needs recovery time to focus its energy on growing and adapting. This is why the classic training pattern is to alternate a hard training day with an easy day or a rest day. You can do 2 consecutive hard training days, if you follow with at least 2 full recovery days.
Believe me, I could tell you many a tale about guys who’ve over-trained and ended up with an injury, extreme fatigue and loss of motivation - the opposite of what they set out to do!
So take a sensible approach to your training and treat your body with respect and it’ll reward you well!
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