Top 4 Ways You're Ruining Your Training & Fitness

4. Being under the impression that there is always plenty of time to prepare for your event:

When you first sign up for an event, sometimes a year in advance, sure there is enough time to prepare. Then the weeks and months go by where a minimal amount of training gets completed. Fitness stagnates at best, but you think to yourself “there’s plenty of time to get ready. My main race is still nine months away.” You retreat back into your “normal” schedule of random workouts mixed in whenever the opportunity arises. Then one day you realize that your goal event, the race you so badly wanted to set a personal best, is only 3 months out. All of a sudden the “Oh $hit light” pops on in your head as you now go into full panic mode trying to figure out how to make up for the lost time. Guess what? You can’t make it up. Following a year round training schedule that incorporates planned reductions in structured training will allow you to achieve better results year over year and for you to reach your full potential as an athlete at any age.

3. Not getting enough rest/sleep:

All the training in the world is worth nothing if you can’t recover from the overload. When the body is exposed to training stimulus it is being placed in a catatonic state. Muscles & energy systems are stressed and cells are being damaged. Rest, in particular sleep, restores the body back to an anabolic state. If the body is not allowed enough repair time, the overload from the training continues to damage the body at a greater rate than it can be reconstructed. The end result is a plateau and an eventual decline in fitness. Recovery is the easiest part of a training plan to complete and often the most overlooked and ignored. Simply put, rest/recovery equals fitness gains from the training sessions you work so hard to complete.

2. Not fueling yourself properly:

Rest, in an of itself, will not build fitness. The body also requires an adequate amount of water, calories and nutrients to effectively repair itself from each training session. Recovery nutrition, as this is known, is only part of the overall fueling strategy every athlete needs to consider. Proper daily nutrition that emphasizes good carbohydrates, and adequate amount of protein and healthy fats keep blood sugar levels stabile, energy levels constant and the metabolism running efficiently. Your daily nutrition is also responsible for preparing the body for the next workout by keeping glycogen stores topped up. Lastly, an effective nutrition plan for longer workouts keeps a consistent supply of energy flowing to the working muscles, translating into more effective training sessions.

From a hydration standpoint, the body’s energy demands are supplied by chemical reactions that rely on water as a key component to the process. Staying hydrated throughout the day and during workouts ensures that the quality of your sessions are not negatively impacted by poor hydration levels.

1.     Always thinking that you have to go hard:

The notion that every workout has to feel extremely difficult or it’s not providing any benefit is the biggest factor that is ruining the efficiency of your training. The body’s three primary energy systems are stressed at differing levels of physical effort. By mixing up the training intensities to include easy, sustainable efforts to all out, maximal sprints, as well as intervals in between, we build a more efficient, whole athlete. The various event distances of an athlete’s chosen race calendar place differing demands on these energy systems. However, the body’s singular aerobic pathway is the primary engine for every endurance race from a sprint distance triathlon or cycling criterium to a full Ironman or ultra marathon.

The most important consideration when completing a prescribed workout is to ensure that you spend the appropriate amount of time at the appropriate intensity. Each workout has a defined purpose, with some sessions targeting physiological adaptation in all three energy systems. To maximize the time you spend training, follow the prescribed intensities and resist the urge to sabotage your workout by trying to go harder than necessary. “Train Smarter, not Harder.”