Training 1 :: intro & planning

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example of a 6 month training programme

It's hard to get out there and train and it's even harder to know what is effective training and what is not. Nopesports very own in-house coach Andy Kitchin has drawn on his expertise, experience and his vast wealth of knowledge to bring you the 1st, in what we hope will be a series of training features guiding you through a full training cycle. Enjoy...

Introduction

September is the time to start planning your training for the winter ahead.
So this article is late !
Even so its time to sit down and having a think about whether you want to improve your fitness to improve your orienteering results.
If you do how you might achieve that?

The first thing you need is a target, something to aim for, something that will define your schedule. There is little point in a plan that doesn't have an aim.

What might your aim be?
It should be something specific e.g. The JK
It should be something measurable e.g. In the top 10
It should be something realistic e.g. you were 12th last year.

Having an aim gives you the reason, the incentive to go out and train regularly and consistently. If you are not really committed to your aim then you won't be committed to your training and it just won't happen - so make your aim something that is important to you.
Running training is about pushing your body's capacity, so that it is capable of running faster, or for longer, or both, this means training harder or for longer. To do this you will need to be committed
There are a number of things to realise about training to improve your fitness.

Everyone is Different

This article is not going to spell out a training programme for you, it tries to avoid statements on how much training you should do – and tries to guide in terms relative to what you are used to yourself. To create your own training programme it is always best to discuss your ideas with your coach – or someone with experience that can give you coaching advice and guidance – This article aims to get you thinking.

Regular Consistent Training

Training regularly, at whatever level you choose, gives your body a constant message that it must be able to run.
Why is consistency important?
Your body is slow to respond to training, it takes days and weeks to respond in various ways to an increase in running, your body has inertia, so you have to keep pushing it with regular running, keeping the pressure on for it to adapt.

Think about it as if you were pushing a car along the road.
To move a car you apply a steady, consistent force and gradually it starts to roll, keep the pressure up and it keeps rolling.
If you run at a car and give it a flying kick it won't respond, it just gets a dent in it.

For your training to be most effective it is hugely important to be consistent:
· Consistency means keeping the amount of training that you do from day to day within a sensible range.
· Consistency means repeating a similar pattern of training week by week through a given phase of your training.
· Consistency means keeping the amount of training week by week within a sensible range.

Note though that variation will come from day to day, week to week. The volume and effort level may rise and fall from a hard day t an easy day, a hard week to an easy week but you can maintain consistency by still doing most of the same sessions in the same pattern each week.

When you train your body it produces various chemicals - hormones and other signals - that stimulate the changes that will increase your fitness; more and stronger muscles, stronger bones, more blood volume, improved blood circulation through lungs and muscles, more energy releasing mitochondria in your muscle cells.
Consistency allows your body to settle and maintain consistent levels of the chemical signals that allow it to:
· Have the right appetite to fuel the next run
· Repair the damage of a training session
· Build the right chemicals, cells and tissues in response to training, which make you fitter.

These body signals and responses do not happen instantly, they take days or weeks.
By keeping the stimulus regular and consistent you create a consistent background of signals within your body so that it is able to respond much more quickly to the training you do.

If your training is up then down in a wild and random fashion then the signals rise, then fall and your body is not in a state to respond so quickly or so well.

Consistency applies over months.

It is consistency that raises your base line fitness, allowing you to move to the next level.

Be consistent.
Give yourself a chance

Threats to consistency
1. Lack of commitment
2. Injury. Avoid injury by warming up, down, planning careful build up in training. If you do get injured you need to commit to managing the injury carefully and recovering quickly.
3. Illness. Avoid illness by managing your lifestyle. If you get ill you need to take the right steps to recover.

The consequences of inconsistent training are likely to be:-
Failure to get fitter
Injury

Recovery

Rest is as important as training, it allows your body to recover from training, but more importantly it allows your body to adapt to the training level and improve your fitness.

Recovery should be part of your plan as much as any training run.
Recovery means having days off training, easy days, easy weeks and an easy spell at some time during the year.
There is not much more to say on Recovery - a very short section on a hugely important aspect of training.

Gradual Progression

Whilst it is important to be consistent you can't be totally consistent all the time you need to increase your training volume or intensity gradually over time. You can't just start training hard for hours every week - you have to start with what you are used to and gently increase what you do, if you progress too quickly you will get ill and or injured.

So how gradually do you progress ?
It is generally advised that year on year your training should increase by no more than 10% to 15%.

Training phases

To achieve the best results a training programme should be split into 3 phases.
1. The Build Up Phase is the period where you gradually increase the amount of training you are capable of doing increases might involve:-
· frequency - training more often
· volume - doing longer runs
· intensity - putting greater effort into your runs
Though don’t try and increase every aspect of training at the same time.
This phase takes you from your base level of fitness and raises it to a point where you are able to train consistently hard.
It is essential that you get this phase right more than those that follow.
2. The Hard Phase follows on from the Build Up Phase and is a period of consistent hard training where effort level, volume and frequency are kept high.
3. The Peaking Phase follows the Hard Phase and sees a reduction in volume of training, with more rest and recovery. There is no reduction in intensity of training, possibly an increase. The reduction in training volume should allow the body more rest and mean you get faster from being fresher.

At the end of the peaking phase you are ready to race. During the race phase your main focus is on the races you are doing, any training between races is aimed at maintaining your fitness and freshness – don’t aim to get fitter during your race phase by trying to train hard aswell.

Planning Your Training Phases

Your Training Limit
Your plan should be based on how much training you are used to, your previous training limit.
Your increase for the Hard Phase of training this year should be limited to 10 - 15% more than the peak amount of training you did last year. This peak amount is not the single biggest week of training you did last year but the consistent peak that you maintained over at least 6 to 8 weeks.
Imagine that your hours of training each week during January and February were;
hard week 6 hours, easy 5, hard 6.5, easy 5, hard 6, easy 5, hard 7, easy 5.5, hard 6.5.
Ignore the easy weeks and take the average of the hard weeks = 6 hours 24 mins. Multiplying by 10 to 15 % gives a limit for this year of between 7 hours and 7:20

Note that this year's maximum should be viewed as a limit, a level that you should not exceed, it should not be a target or a minimum to be exceeded.

Your Training Build Up
Having worked out you training limit you can work out where to start your build up.
65% of the limit is a good place to start. Its a good place to start for 2 reasons. If you train regularly and peaked at a certain level over last winter, 65% of this is probably the level of training that you find you have been doing over the summer, the natural level that you have settled at.
If you have always trained at about the same level without increase in the winter and reduction in the summer then you should calculate your winter limit in the same way as above 10 to 15% more than your regular training. You should also drop your training to 65% of that limit for the start of your build up - It might seem strange to drop your training but this drop will allow you to introduce some more intense training to your programme, interval training for example.

Building Up

You need to invest plenty of time in building up, a minimum of about three months is probably required. If taking this long to build up does not leave enough time for an intense training phase and a peaking phase then it may be sensible to re-assess your target, otherwise you may end up rushing your training programme and not really achieving very much.

You need to break your training into cycles within the different phases. This can help you both plan and measure your progress.
An example a cycle might consist of a Medium week, a Hard week and an Easy week. At the beginning of the next medium week you can do a standard test run to see if your time over that run has improved.
Another example cycle might last 4 weeks; Hard week, Easy, Hard, Easy.
An easy week should be about 70 or 75% of a hard week.

During the Build up phase you need to slowly increase the training you do, from one hard week to the next the increase should again be limited to around 10%.

Throughout your training programme you should also gradually increase the amount of quality training you do.

During your build up you should focus on one of your weekly training sessions at a time. Choose a key session and concentrate on building that session up over a month, getting comfortable with it before moving on to build up another of your weekly sessions.
It is important to take a sensible view of how you are feeling and be honest about whether you are ready to move on and build up another of your weekly sessions. Listen to your body

An example of this would be that I will start my build up focussing on a Tuesday Intervals session, just going for an easy or a steady run on Thursdays. After a month or more, having increased the amount and intensity of my Intervals, I will begin feel to fresh enough on Thursday to do more than a steady run. I begin to introduce some harder 'Tempo' running on Thursdays, maybe starting with 10 minutes of Tempo as part of the normal hour, adding 5 more minutes of tempo over the next few weeks until the total of Tempo effort is 30 or more minutes

Be cautious and build up one thing at a time

An Example Training Profile

Taking all the ideas I have described above the table (top) and graph (below) describe a possible six month training programme with Build Up, Hard and Peaking phases - also described are possible focus for change in the cycles within the phases. The pattern of training is based on hard week followed by easy week.

...big thanks to Andy for putting this together. Now get out there and train!

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graphical form of % of quality & volume

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