Training for Optimal Performance


As a Personal Trainer and ex military PTI with over 20 years experience of training soldiers for optimal performance, I have gained a great understanding of how important it is to train to what you want to achieve.  I had a really interesting conversation with someone who wants to improve their running time over 5km.  As the conversation progressed I began to quiz them about their training.  They were as proud as punch to inform me that would go running every day during the week and have a long run on the weekend.  So I asked them to write down their generic week for running, it was as follows:

  • Mon – 45 min steady run
  • Tue – 45 min steady run
  • Wed – 45 min steady run
  • Thu – 45 min steady run
  • Fri – 45 min steady run
  • Sat or Sun – 1 hour+ steady run

I then asked them what their goal was for each training session and what other training did they do apart from running.  The blank look said it all.  We then spent the next 30+ minutes talking about the importance of not only structuring the training, but also the importance of balance of training, The take away I hope they got was a few key areas.  In essence:

Understand your goal – Have an understanding of what you want to achieve, not just from your training, but from each training session.  Each session should be specific enough that the next session both complements and builds on what you have done so far.

Mix it up – One sure way to get injured is to do the same thing over and over again.  Mix up your training.  Not only will it make it fun, but it will also allow you to get more from your training by stressing the body in different ways.  Whilst running and cycling both use your legs, the muscle systems will be stressed differently and so will the joints.  Aerobically there will be crossover benefits, but, by only doing one style of training could lead to the potential for injury and what we do’t really want – Time off.

Strength Training – Regular strength training can improve the body’s economy-how efficiently the body uses oxygen.  This improvement will translate into greater speed and more muscle endurance. It makes sense to train the major muscles that you will utilise, therefore, be mindful of what you want to achieve through your strength training.

Recover – Recovery is important as it is the time that the body adapts to the stress of training (where the real training effect takes place).  Inadequate recovery can lead to over training and potential injuries.

Question – Never be afraid to ask questions.  If you are unsure of what you need to do, ask the opinions of others, especially those who can give structured advice.  It may give you the drive to go further in your training.

Whatever you do within your training, make sure you use your time wisely to maximize your goals and you will achieve the unthinkable.

Have a fit and healthy day