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Well structured training plans often have daily sessions prescribed in great detail providing the work time and intensity that the athlete should complete. In controlling these variables a coach and/or athlete can keep a grasp of their training load over long periods of time. Planning is generally the best way to ensure success and achieve targets. It allows one to prevent wasting time completing irrelevant or redundant training sessions. A well structured training plan allows an athlete to be more efficient in progressing towards their goals.
From time to time an athlete may experience external factors which disturb their regular training pattern. They may have had a race that was a lot more challenging than they expected and perhaps had too little sleep after. This would lead to excess stress and inadequate rest. They may also be sick or going through extremely high periods of stress with work etc. There are a plethora of random influences that cannot be factored into their training plan at its creation.
Highly motivated individuals and athletes thrive off the targets they set. The thought of missing these targets tends to be quite motivating especially in disadvantaged circumstances. Athletes often see challenges as opportunities. In the scenarios above we often see athletes attempt tough workouts when they shouldn’t. This is quite often detrimental to their overall training as it can turn a few days of feeling run down and tired into a week of the flu.
Many athletes fail to consider recovery. Not in the sense that they need to recover but the actual demands and purpose of recovery. Recovery is the process through which the body reverses the fatigue created by training stress. This reversal instigates an adaptation. This adaptation leads to a positive training effect. If the body is not able to adapt then the benefit is negated. The session then loses its benefit.
In the situations above, athletes waste more time attempting a session than altering it. Making a session easier through a reduction in time and/or intensity is rarely detrimental. A lesser training stimulus will usually make adaptation more achievable and place a lesser recovery demand on the body. In the case where readiness to train is low or recovery potential is reduced then a reduced training stress is advisable.
When an athlete learns that consistency will win over hard work they tend to make greater gains in the long run. Short pulses of improvement are regularly followed by illness or injury. Preventing injury and illness can be more beneficial to improvements than pushing through and hoping you can cope.
Athletes must learn to recognize when to scale down a training session. Quite often a swap between a high and low intensity training session can keep the whole program on track. This is more often the case than pushing through a session in an ill prepared state.
Small training stimuli still yield results. Athletes often disregard easy sessions as being a waste of time, when in reality the real waste of time is lying in bed sick for a week when it could have been avoided. In the case where an athlete does not feel like they are in good health or fully recovered it is nearly always better to be conservative for a day or two. Quite often they get back to normal quite quickly. It is important to realize that a session performed poorly can yield very little results but comes with bigger risk.
This can also be the case for an athlete who is perhaps rushed and has under fuelled or is dehydrated going into a session. Student athletes or athletes with busy jobs can also be at a disadvantage at certain periods of exams or deadlines etc. These influences should be accounted for and adjustments made. The body ebbs and flows with its ability to tolerate stress and recover from it. We should be willing to compromise and be flexible with our training when needed. The wrong session at the wrong time can derail months of good steady progress. Progress should always be the focus no matter how small or slow it comes. Often the drive for more, faster leads to poorer results in the long term.
If you have problems completing your training or need to explore a more flexible approach then do not hesitate to contact us. We understand people have busy jobs and other concerns which don’t allow you to train like a full time athlete. We work to find the best program for you!