More Is Not Necessarily Better

In the U.S. we've all grown up hearing over and over, if you want to get ahead you have to do more than the next guy.  That ideal has served us well, but at times tends to get in the way of progressing as much as we would like.  We at believe that more work has a place in athletic training, but that it has its limits, and can often interfere with your progress as a runner.

There is a fine line between athletic excellence and devastating injury.  Often times, in our bid to reach the pinnacle of sport we simply over train. More often than not, you can get better by doing less work.  The work that you do has to be more effective.

The rule of thumb in sprint training is that you do no more than 3 sets of 3 short sprints (i.e. 30ís, 40ís, 60ís) at maximal effort with 3-4 minutes rest between each repetition and 5-6 minutes rest between sets.  We often see athletes who want to do another set, but whose times in that extra set cannot match the previous sets times.  The credo of training is that if your performance in a given set decreases by 10% despite having tried your hardest, you need to call it a day.   That extra set was really a wasted effort and puts the athlete that much closer to injury.  It also increases the number of hours required for recovery for another training session.

The same effect can be seen in distance running.  Many athletes believe a better mile time will only come by running extreme mileage every week.  We all know the legions of distance runners that have severe shin splints and even stress fractures from high mileage on concrete roads.  We believe the same race times can be achieved by upping the intensity of the run or track workout and lowering the mileage.  Your legs will be there for another day and extend the life of your running career. 

You must, however, also be careful to sequence your workouts so that you are not doing hard workouts day after day.  The workouts have to have easy recovery days sequenced into them.  Be patient in your training, looking for incremental time drops rather than sudden dramatic improvement.  Your career will be prolonged with smart planning and you will see career best times while not tearing down your body.