Axe the junk miles and reap the health rewards of each swim, run and ride you do.
Do you plod round the same run, hardly ever change your bike route or plough mindlessly up and down the pool? If this sounds familiar, you’re most likely camped on a performance plateau and are heading towards burn-out through boredom.
To keep making gains you need to force your body to adapt to new stimuli. Variety is the spice of performance.
It’s easy to get stuck in a training rut. There is a large number of factors that make people fast – fitness, biomechanics and experience being a few. Variety in training, working on your weaknesses and pushing out of your comfort zone are the strategies to achieve this.
Regular testing of your performance is important. If you can’t measure where you are, you’re training blind. This doesn’t mean that you need to do more training. It’s possible that you may actually need more recovery sessions.
Don’t just keep piling on the quantity and intensity day after day. Try to alternate days of short sharp sessions with longer, lower intensity endurance ones. Have at least one complete relaxation day every week and, every three to four weeks, plan an easier recovery week when you may reduce training by 50 per cent. It’s when you recover that your body adapts and becomes stronger.
Finally, training has to be aimed at your goals. Cross-training is a great add-on for increasing robustness and reducing boredom but putting in the quality sessions of the sports activities you’re training for has to be a priority.
If you’re training for a 3 1⁄2 hour marathon, a decent proportion of your training needs to be at the 8:30 mins/mile race pace or faster. The same applies to riding a bike and swimming. In case you don’t train at your goal race pace, how can you even expect to step up to it on the day?