In theory, yes.
Is there, however, a tipping point where consistent training becomes comfortable reducing the benefits?
My thoughts have turned to this after a recent exchange with a friend, who said that her consistency of training was really paying dividends and improving performance.
Hmmm, I thought. Something is not right here. I though my training over the last six months had been fairly consistent but my performance, in particular my speed, are not much improved. Why?
In all honesty during the first covid-19 lockdown and brief period when restrictions lifted my training was not at all consistent. I tried to convince myself it was; that it was just different due the circumstances; that the objective was maintaining base level fitness. The objective was partially met. I remained reasonably fit and strong and could comfortably knock out shorter runs and anything up to half marathon. However, there were a lot of missed sessions, my weight crept up and there was no speed. So last September I put a proper regular training and eating plan in place and have stuck to it (although the eating plan has slipped a bit).
There have been noticeable benefits: a reduction and stabilisation of weight, improved strength and core strength, better energy levels and improved sleep patterns. It has helped to structure my day and provide break points to the working day. I have comfortably increased my distances a little at a time and comfortably added reps to my speed and hill interval sessions. I have added distance to my spin bike sessions.
Why, then am I complaining? Surely, this is all good. It looks like my objectives are being met. It has been consistent. I have done all my planned sessions and progressed, but the return is less than hoped for. There is little evidence of any improvement in speed. It is still taking me an embarrassing and inordinate amount time to cover the miles.
There is a massive clue: ‘I have comfortably increased…’. You have rather missed the point Audrey. Why is it comfortable?
I should be struggling to add the distance and reps. I should feel it, I should feel like I just can’t squeeze out that extra mile, hill and sprint along the river path. Speed and hill sessions are not meant to be comfortable. The missing element is intensity.
Strangely, I push myself hard on the bike. There is no comfortable pootling along. I drive hard to either get more distance in the same time or do a set distance faster. The resistance has been notching up over the weeks and months. I fall off the bike sweaty, out of breath and with wobbly legs. I need to apply the same rigour to my running.
Adjustment is needed. Push harder, increase the intensity. Without that adding miles and reps are pointless. A good plan has variety and not just in the type of session. Yes, there is a place for easier sessions, for a steady gradual increase in mileage, but they need to be balanced with hard, gut busting, sweaty, wobbly legged sessions. This is what will build the strength and stamina needed for improved speed. This is a minor and easy adjustment to make. I don’t need to go back to drawing board I just need to tweak the plan.
One last observation. Things maybe aren’t quite a bad as I thought. There has been no real drive or incentive for me to actually test my speed. I have not had my ‘race head’ on: but doing a virtual event recently I did engage my race head, I found some speed and on my last day pushed hard to achieve a pace that I have not run at for a long time. The potential is there, the foundation is in place and I am going make those tweaks and build on what was hiding behind the comfort blanket.