Basic Training Concepts

basicYou may be wondering when is it going to feel easier. Since each of us is unique and starting from a different level of fitness, we will progress at different rates. We can’t necessarily predict your rate of improvement in endurance and fitness, but we can predict that if you adhere to the principles set out below, your level of fitness will improve, your endurance will increase – maybe even dramatically, and you will likely get faster even if speed is not a concern.

In order to realize improvements in endurance and fitness, you must train consistently. This means that you need to get out and run three or four times a week, every week. That doesn’t mean that if you miss a day, the sky will fall. We all miss days here and there because life does tend to interfere from time to time. So do the best you can to get those miles in. Often the hardest part is just getting out the door. The first mile is always the hardest. You get home from work late. You are tired and hungry. Going out for a run is about the last thing you want to do. So how do you get out ? Two things: Think about your goal – the medal you are going to get which will forever symbolize your accomplishment. The other thing is to tell yourself to just run for 10 minutes, and if you want to come in and eat after that, it’s OK to do it. You probably will never stopped after just 10 minutes.

There are two parts to training: stress and adaptation. How does this work ? When you run or walk, you make your cardio-vascular system, and muscular skeletal system work harder than they’re used to. This is stressful to those systems and they break down slightly as a result of the exercise. After running or walking, the body repairs and rebuilds itself, making itself stronger than it was before. If all you do is run or walk, you only break down and stress your body without giving it a chance to repair and rebuild. The result of not getting enough recovery from a workout may be injury or illness caused by a weakening of your immune system from overtraining. When does the most repair and rebuilding take place? WHEN YOU ARE SLEEPING! Imagine that – some of the most important training is done in your sleep. How cool is that? So if you look at your training schedule, you will see that a hard training day is always followed by either an easy training day or a rest day so that proper recovery will take place and you’ll be ready for the next run or walk.

Take a look at the training schedule and you will see that the increase in our weekly mileage and the mileage of our longest run/walk of the week is very gradual. In fact, at the end of a training run/walk, you may feel like you can go farther. Resist the urge. Building mileage too quickly increases the risk of injury. Building mileage slowly allows your body to adapt and get stronger. In fact, you will see that every once in a while we reduce our weekly mileage so as to give our bodies a chance to recover before ramping it up again. Don’t be impatient.

You will be hearing more from me about hydration and nutrition. But for the time being, keep in mind that even if one piece of your motivation for doing the Disney event is weight loss, you still need to take in a sufficient amount of calories and in the right proportion. Look at food as fuel for your exercise. You can’t drive your car without gasoline and you can’t train for an endurance event without fuel either. You need carbohydrates for energy. Try to make 60-65% of your calorie intake carbohydrates – preferably complex carbs from non-processed foods., e.g. brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole grain breads, oatmeal. Your body also needs adequate amounts of protein for tissue repair. Go for 20-25% of your calorie intake from proteins. Vegetarians have to work a little harder to find adequate sources of protein, but beans, peanut butter and dairy products are some go to sources. Finally, 10-15% of calories should come from fat, preferably the mono or non-saturated variety like that found in olive oil or guacamole. Eat lots of fruits and veggies of different colors. And don’t forget to drink. Even when it’s cold out, you will sweat away fluids that need to be replaced. Start your runs/walks hydrated and take in fluids periodically. More on fluid intake soon.