Rule #1: The boring stuff is your foundation
We have a temptation to want to skip to the ‘cool, sexy’ stuff. It’s boring to do endless easy runs or to spend hours working on the starting position in the sprints. But the ‘boring’ work serves as our foundation. We need to have a firm understanding of the basics before we move on to the next step. And once we have moved on, we need to continually go back to the basics to make sure that they are ingrained. In my pet theory of connection, the key to cementing and understanding is connecting ideas. If we can’t connect a concept or training stimulus to anything, then its impact is negligible. Think back to why you didn’t like reading the assigned English classics or the boring ancient history textbook in High School. Or even when you began to try to figure out coaching and none of the textbooks made sense and you had to grind through explanations of the Krebs cycle. There was nothing to connect it to. The boring stuff serves the foundation for connection. The larger and widespread base of ‘boring’ work we have, the greater impact the specific ‘sexy’ work has. Even though it might be the most appealing to do, the basic work is a necessity.
What does this mean? The simple work we all do, easy running, high-end aerobic work, strides, and speed development all serve as the foundation we need to build off of. It might not seem as cool todo 6x60m acceleration or a 14-mile long run when we could do something interesting like sets of 400,300,200 at 60, 43, 27, but one is the icing on the cake and one is the foundation. Even though we love icing, it can spoil on us quickly if we don’t have the foundation to counterbalance it.
Rule #2: Let it Come, Don’t Force it.
You can’t force fitness. The body doesn’t adapt according to a schedule that you set, instead, it only adapts and grows at the rate that it decides to. What this means is that you have to design workouts to grow based on the current state of your body, not on where you desire to be. You can’t force your body to go from running tempo’s at 5:30 mile pace down to 5:20. Instead, take what your body allows you to do. Let fitness come as you get good consistent work in.
Rule # 3: Take the Next Logical Step
Don’t go there until you need to go there. As a coach and athlete, it’s often tempting to want to make big jumps. Whether that’s in jumping from 70 miles per week to 100, or in going from doing 10×400 to 20×400. We get sudden spurts of motivation that tend to push towards wanting to make large jumps. The problem with this philosophy is that it’s a short term fix. While we could have got a nice steady boost in fitness from going from 70 to 80 to 90 miles per week, instead we just get one go for broke stimulus.
Instead of trying to force our way into big breakthroughs, take the next logical step.
Rule #4: You lose what you don’t train
It seems obvious. If you don’t use it, you lose. It’s a cliché. But how many athletes scream out “I lost my speed” after performing 4 months of only running mileage. They blame the mileage, without realizing that they didn’t train pure speed once during that period. Poor mileage. It takes the bad rap. The fact that speed was not trained had a bigger impact than any slow running that was performed. The same fact holds true for any component of fitness. If we don’t train it, we lose it. When we are tapering for weeks on end if we don’t perform aerobic work, bye-bye aerobic abilities. If we quit lifting when our season gets hectic, bye-bye strength gains.
It’s simple. But often forgotten. If you don’t want to lose it, train it.
Rule #5: Train the individual, not the system
The athlete + the demands of the event determine you’re training. We fit our system around that. We don’t take the athlete and shove them into our training or coaching philosophy. Adapt to the individual.
Stop putting yourself into a box, saying you adhere to X system or playbook. You have to adapt to the ingredients you are given and the cake you are trying to bake!