By Chris Pilone.
Stress plus rest equals adaptation. It sounds like a simple statement, but it is the most ignored training principle. How many athletes have we seen who just keep churning out hard training session after hard training session and appear to be in the best shape of their lives? Then suddenly they are sick or injured!
I have done this myself on more than one occasion and seen others do it many times! When I coached Hamish Carter he didn’t have a clue what lactate threshold or VO2 Max was BUT HE DID KNOW HOW TO TRAIN.
i.e. He instinctively knew when to back off and take a rest day or one or two easy days. The same can be said for Ethiopian and Kenyan distance runners. They train on instinct rather than what is written on a piece of paper. When I coached Hamish he would do a number of hard days in a row. Usually four hard days in row, followed by one or more easy days. Usually a quality run session on the first day and a quality bike session on the fourth days. Volume was high and usually three disciplines per day.
However after one easy day or rest day the decision to move onto another block of hard days was dependent on Hamish’s recovery. There are all sorts of highly scientific ways to judge recovery but the thing that always worked for me in my coaching is an athlete’s mood. If an athlete is moody or bad tempered they most likely have not recovered from previous hard training. Former World Duathlon Champion and now prominent sports doctor Matt Brick once said “If you meet more than two bastards in one day you are probably overtraining.”
Basing an athlete’s training around recovery can be time consuming for a coach and makes doing set things on set days difficult, but when training an athlete to compete at the highest level (Olympics or World Champs) it can pay big dividends.
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