At Steel City Endurance, we are not setting out to revolutionize the fitness world, just your own personal results. Glossy magazines and web forums are filled with advice from people of all backgrounds. How do you know whose advice to trust? How do you reconcile opposing recommendations from one issue of your favorite magazine to the next? From one anonymous forum poster to another?
The “truth” in endurance training, ie. What’s the “best” way to train? Is both a largely unknown as well as a moving target. Time tested knowledge and principals are passed down from one generation of coaches to athletes who then become coaches. Some of these principals are tested scientifically, but many are not. Even those that have been scientifically tested can result on opposing conclusions by authors and critics. Current examples include questions regarding stretching, strength training, running form and exercise intensity
And what’s to be made of “High intensity Interval training” (HIIT)? Tabata’s? Anaerobic sets? Hill repeats? When should you stretch, when should you lift weights, when should you eat, sleep, ice bath, compress, elevate, recover and for how long?
As an athlete you’ve only got so much time to read, research and test. You’re a study of one, with important goals for your fitness and limited time to train. How much trial and error are you willing to undertake?
We Find the Balance Betweeen Science and Tradition
It’s not your fault that you’re confused and nervous about your training. Steel City Endurance coaching doesn’t guess about protocols when it comes to your fitness. With a background in physiology and medicine, reading scientific literature is part of my daily grind. As a coach, I make it my business to keep up to date with the myriad of news, articles, studies and fads that are out there. I separate the wheat and the chaffe so you can spend your time confidently training, recovering or enjoying your down time without worry.
Browse some popular online forums and the mantra “HTFU” is rampant (“Harden the F Up”). Work harder, do more, do it faster, make it hurt. (Do you really want to spend your free time in pain?) Conversely, well worn “traditional” methods suggest that we should slow down, go easier, rest more, don’t overexert. (Man that sounds boring) In truth, a sound training plan can make use of both of the above extremes, along with a variety of intensities in-between. But each must be applied in the proper amount, with the right mixture of complementary workouts, recovery and nutrition.
Your Training Should be a Gourmet Feast
A single training block is like a fine recipe. A variety of ingredients are needed, but the measure of each varies depending on your background, current fitness and goals. Planning out an entire season or year of training is like a four course meal. Each course has a specific theme and purpose. Each course compliments the previous one and anticipates the one to follow. The entire gourmet feast is garnished with just a touch of fine detail…a flower arrangement, the choice of wine, and selection of silverware.
Likewise, each Steel City Endurance customized training plan is hand-crafted specifically for you. A periodized training plan is your four-course meal. Each course is a macro-cycle (a 4-8 week block dedicated to improving a specific aspect of your fitness). The recipe for each course is customized for your needs at that time. The fine details overlooked in many plans include supplementary workouts (core, yoga, pilates, etc), nutrition, recovery and equipment needs.
Your Training Should Sustain you, not Tear You Down
I believe that cycling, swimming, running and triathlon are lifestyle pursuits. Regardless of your category, age group, rankings or overall speed, if you don’t love the lifestyle, you won’t love the training. AS a result, we must find a way to incorporate the training into the lifestyle that sustains you, not force your lifestyle to mold around a pre-determined rigid amount of hours or miles of training.
Life is fluid and dynamic, as are the mediums through which we move…air and water. As a result, rather than practicing HTFU, which may temporarily distract you from your work, relationships and finances, I believe we must STFD (Slow the F Down). Not literally, but spiritually. Embrace each workout as an opportunity to get to know our body better, from the way it moves to the things we think about while training (metacognition) Whether your workout calls for vo2 max intervals, threshold repeats or an endurance effort, be mindful and present of that workout at that moment. Integrate, don’t Dissociate.
Step back and examine how training fits into your life, not how you can squeeze life in around your training. Examine how each workout fits into the overall training cycle, how each cycle fits into the overall plan and how the training plan integrates with your life, your philosophy and your values. Your training must be in balance an in accordance with your current needs.
We’ve each got one body, one mind and one soul. Work to integrate the three and keep them in harmony with one another. Be mindful of how you spend both your free time and your training time. Be respectful of yourself, because you deserve to be treated well.