The 3 key principles of Accuracy of Session, Balance in Training and Consistency are key to any training programme regardless of the sport and are ones that if you or your Coach builds them as central pillars to your programme will aid you in your desire to achieve that PB in the race season. Accuracy of Session or making your sessions more Specific to you, your abilities, your goals and your event is a key pillar to ensure that the desired adaptation occurs. The term specificity is sometimes used interchangeably with the acronym SAID, which stands for specific adaptation to imposed demands. The underlying principle here is that it is the type of demand that is placed on the body that dictates the type of adaptation that will occur. So if you are training for a marathon then an accurately designed session would revolve around perhaps some race pace adaptation, or some shorter interval type work to facilitate that leg speed and improve the aerobic engine efficiency, or tempo work or an appropriately paced longer runs. Not long and slow but longer and appropriately paced. Similarly if you are training for a Ironman Triathlon then you need to swim 3.8km efficiently in a wetsuit, therefore to match the stimulus must match the desired adaptation, so a session might be something like 40 x 100m with some small paddles and pull buoy Would swimming open water make you a better open water swimmer? Perhaps yes, because it is more specific – it is also quite tough to do all year long in most climates. So the examples I have used here are ones where I am trying to activate or recruit the same motor units required by your sport and by incorporating training that mimics the movement patterns of your sport as a Coach I increase the likelihood that muscles involved in the sport will be recruited.
Balance in life whilst still achieving the consistency, that as you will read below is fundamental, is key to achieving long-term success in sport. Training adds to our daily dose of stressors, work, death, marriage, taxes etc. and therefore by achieving balance and limiting that total stress you allow therefore just Training Stress to be placed upon us. If we achieve this then we can perhaps up the training stress thus facilitating greater adaptation. By achieving this healthy balance you can eke out the most from those training sessions.
Consistency is the unqualified key to long-term progress. Consistency in training is paramount and in its simplest form is limiting those sessions you miss. Your Coach may plan weeks where you will do no training – and believe me when I say these will be tough but in principle we look to keep ticking over. Aerobic progress and fitness, in general, respond well to continued stimulation. De-training happens very, very quickly. For this reason, avoiding injury is absolutely imperative. Injuries do nothing but put you on the couch, undermining consistency, and therefore long-term progress.
So when you or your Coach is designing your next block of training consider the ABCs.