For the ambitious athlete with equally ambitious training consideration should be given to their motivation and their specific goal. A solid motivation is to concentrate on the process and not the outcome and aim to be the best that athlete can be and the goal should be whatever target the athlete places the greatest value on. With runners and triathletes I would encourage them not to place too much emphasis however on the goal too early in their athletic career. It takes time to achieve appropriate levels of sport specific excellence and athletes should be allowed this time to develop, grow both physiologically and psychologically and potentially change direction.
In terms of the objective it is key that one should never do more than is necessary to achieve it. So programmes should not just build to a maximal training level and hold an athlete there, rather any programme should take into consideration all aspects of an athletes life, work, family and social commitments and ensure that there is a quality to the training that is fitted in around these aspects such that the athlete develops.
So when one looks into the specifics of training whilst mileage volume at a slower pace is needed to establish the cardiovascular base required by the aerobic sports that most participate in it should be limited to again being just enough to achieve the aim and no more. More is not necessarily better – for the triathletes I am tempted to repeat that! The risk of any over use injury should always be limited. When we conduct anaerobic work or the powerful stimulus of interval training it can quickly bring an athlete on but equally quickly can bring about fatigue and injury so it is monitored and used sparingly – no more than necessary for the individual athlete.
The harder the training or the greater the ambition of the athlete the more a Coach has to consider. Athletes should be encouraged to appropriately discover their limits but this must never be at the risk of pushing an athlete too far and if the mantra of Never Do More than is Necessary is heeded you give the ambitious athlete the greatest chance of reaching their goal.