Well, I started a thorough post on performance training only to fail to hit the save draft button and lost all of the content I wrote.
This is a lesson that ties in perfectly with this type of training article.
Always ensure you pay attention to the little things in your preparation.
Often times, we get caught up with how many miles a week we are running and neglect other areas of our race preparation.
Areas such as our nutritional needs, sleep, running too fast on recovery days and paying attention to things outside of our control. Joe or Jane in your local area ran what time?
Focus on What You Can Control
How does this help you when it comes to your own performance? Can it be a motivation to see others running fast times that we wish to run ourselves? Perhaps.
That being said, if we want to duplicate their performances or outperform them what needs to be done?
Less focus on things outside of our control. I got caught up with this too when I was in high school. I was a freshman in high school with a mile PR of 5:09.
So and so ran a 4:44 mile? Incredible. How did they do that? I want to run a time like that. All runners are interested in performances of other athletes that are achieving times we want to achieve.
That being said, it is still up to us if we are going to achieve similar or better results. I had to put in the work and prepare for everything my competition through at me.
I ended up running 4:25 for the mile as a high school freshman.
It took time and effort to finally start running times as fast or faster than the top high school athletes in the state of Ohio during my high school years.
Mike Tyson said it best,
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face
It is important to have confidence but if you lack talent then you are really going to have to rely on your work ethic. A lot of guys thought they could beat Tyson. Some did but a large percentage of those fighters he fought were not adequately prepared for what was coming their way.
The fighters that did beat him had to find his weak spots and prepare to maximize on that. The same goes for you and I when we compete. Learn from the mistakes you are making, adjust your preparation and start doing what top athletes do.
Ways To Maximize Sports Performance Training
- Start focusing on quality versus quantity
You have to get beyond thinking more mileage will produce better results. Volume run too slow will only make you a long, slow runner.
The best runners in your area, nationally and around the world make it look easy for a reason. They train at a high, anaerobic effort for a higher percentage of their weekly mileage.
If you are currently having issues improving I highly doubt it is on account of being too old or past your prime.
You need to make some changes in the way you are preparing. Remember, the goal is pace sustainment. How to slow down less than then guy or gal next to you in the race.
How do you do this?
Improve your lactate tolerance. Start spending a higher percentage of your weekly long runs running at a higher heart rate.
What helped me lower my marathon best from 2:43:36 to 2:19:35? I drastically increased the intensity of my long runs.
Below is an example of my long run prior to breaking the 2:20:00 marathon barrier and after doing it.
20-22 miler at 6:45-50 mile pace
20-25 miler with first 4 miles @140BPM, 1 mile in 4:50, 6 miles@160BPM, 4 miles@150BPM, 1 mile in 4:50, 4 miles@160BPM
Remember, long, slow easy miles are still important. The benefit of all of hard work and dedication comes from within the rest. Performance training means you have to start focusing on leverage.
How does a 5 hour marathoner get to become a 4 hour marathoner?
2. Be extremely patient
Obviously, there is a lot of patience involved here. No one drops an hour off their marathon time without an enormous amount of hard work and dedication.
Process Versus Event
Sustaining 11:27 per mile and 9:09 per mile are two drastically different intensities. The trick to make the big jump? Patience and spending a great deal of time over a long period of time training at, close to and below 9:09 mile pace.
Of course, this isn't done overnight. The important part of performance training is a strong belief in delayed gratification.
Who doesn't want to get great results fast right? The reality is that doesn't always happen in our sport. If you can get fast results more power to you but try duplicating those high-level performances over and over again.
The majority of athletes love the event. What many people fail to see is the process that had to take place in order for the event to become a reality.
Below is a picture of me breaking the 2:20:00 marathon barrier. The process is not seen in this picture. The event, the 2:19 time on the clock is.
I started running marathons in November of 2002. I didn't run this time until December of 2007. How could someone with very little talent run a time like the one above?
Consistent and persistent hard work coupled with failures. If anything matters in performance training it is this. What you lack in the talent department must be made up with extreme hard work and dedication.
You cannot lose enthusiasm when things don't go the way you want them to. One thing I have learned from top runners is they get over poor performances fast.
They're already thinking about the next race minutes or hours after a race that didn't quite go the way they wanted. The Kenyans I have trained and lived with have this type of mindset.
We all have the choice to be average, good or great. It is your choice. Keep in mind, the choice you make will require even more work. There are a lot of areas outside of your physical training you really have to be paying attention to.
Focus Areas For Peak Performance
Here are a few commonly overlooked areas and one that nearly any middle to long distance runner knows anything about.
- Increase your glutathione levels.
- Focus on visualizing yourself getting to the finish line under the time you want to run
- Practice taking in more fluid and calories during your long runs
- Practice doing a long run or two (not every weekend) without ingesting sports drinks and just water
- Alternate doing one long run at a higher heart rate followed by an easier, long run the following week
- Vary up the paces of your long run i.e. 4 miles easy, 1 mile all-out, 4 miles moderate, 4 miles easy, 1 mile all-out.
The above suggestions are some of the key areas that will help yield your huge gains in fitness and new personal bests.
Speed and Agility Training
Performance training also encompasses a great deal of focus on your Aerobic Capacity. This is the point at which you cannot clear lactic acid faster than it is building up in the blood stream.
None of us, regardless of ability level, can run for very long at heart rates above 175 beats per minute. The important thing to remember when focusing on sprints is proper running form.
In addition to that, there is a huge physiological boost you can from focusing on sprints and agility training, fast twitch muscle fiber recruitment.
The more fast twitch muscle fibers you can recruit from high-intensity training the more economical you are going to run.
The top runners you see in your local area and competing at the national or elite level have mastered this part of performance training.
The good news is you can always work on your speed and agility. We all don't have the explosiveness and speed of an Usain Bolt but we can continue to improve our speed.
Peak performance comes by way of doing all the above mentioned training strategies consistently. You want to teach the body to clear lactic acid faster than it is building up in the blood stream.
Long, slow easy running does not create this physiological adaptation. That being said, training at your anaerobic threshold and aerobic capacity will.
Is Long, Slow Running Still Important For Optimal Performance?
None of us can run fast everyday. In addition to that, if you aren't just as disciplined to back off as you are to do the tough workouts you'll never reach peak fitness.
You have to take it easy on your recovery days. As a reminder, the physiological benefits of these specific workouts come within the rest.
It takes approximately 21 days or 3 weeks for your body to adapt to any stress load you place upon it. So, the effects of the workouts you do today will be seen weeks from now so be patient.
Easy running burns fat and builds endurance so it is still vital to achieve success in our sport. That being said, when it comes to specific race goals we have to train at and below a specific pace.
Hiring a performance coach is also an investment in yourself. I've done it myself and offer consulting services to athletes seeking one-on-one mentorship.
There is also the RunDreamAchieve YouTube channel available as well if you want some free advice. Feel free to subscribe to get my latest training videos on performance training.