The ABCs of Systematic Training
The basic components of the training method found in this guide can be summarized with the following ABC mnemonic:
- A. Aerobic before anaerobic
- B. Build endurance along with neuromuscular speed
- C. Consistent supplemental work (drills, strength, preventive care)
Aerobic before anaerobic refers to the need to establish a strong aerobic foundation before moving into the higher intensity anaerobic training zones that utilize the lactic acid system. Just as building a house requires starting with a solid foundation, so does building your fitness. Higher intensity activity is like the upper floors on a building that require a solid foundation to withstand their stress load. The more solid the foundation, the higher the building can rise. Likewise, the more solid your aerobic foundation, the faster you will eventually be able to go.
Even if you are training for short distance events that utilize a greater percentage of anaerobic energy pathways, it is important to remember that you still predominantly rely upon your aerobic system as an endurance athlete. In this way, anaerobic endurance is superimposed upon one’s aerobic capacity. To use another analogy, the speed you generate from tapping into the anaerobic lactic acid system is like the layer of icing on top of a cake where the cake represents your aerobic capacity. Frosting without the layers beneath it does not make for a solid cake. In the same way, focusing strictly on anaerobic training without attention to establishing a solid aerobic foundation does not make an effective endurance athlete. You may make quick gains in the short term, but at the expense of long term development. It is better to build your fitness from the ground up, establishing a strong aerobic base before moving into serious anaerobic work. This, however, does not mean you neglect speed in the true sense of the term, as the next point emphasizes.
The second component — build endurance along with neuromuscular speed — refers to the need to develop the ability to move quickly and efficiently as you build your aerobic foundation. More specifically, by “neuromuscular speed,” I mean the quick firing of muscle fibers and coordination of proper movement patterns required for economy of motion. Note that this is different than the conception of “speed” as it is sometimes used to refer to activities of a few minutes in duration where the lactic acid system is tapped.
Neuromuscular speed is achieved through short, alactic bursts—what might be viewed as “true” speed. Short sprints or hills less than 10 seconds in duration are called “alactics” because they are not long enough in duration to tap the lactic acid system. Although alactics do utilize anaerobic energy pathways, they do not stress the body the way the lactic acid system does and are therefore appropriate during base building periods. Alactics develop the body’s supporting structures (e.g. muscles, ligaments, tendons) that need to be in place for higher intensity aerobic and anaerobic work down the road. In addition, alactics condition the fast-twitch and intermediate fast-twitch muscle fibers that even endurance athletes utilize during prolonged activity, and this work (along with form drills) plays an important role in improving one’s economy of motion. If you can move more efficiently over a given distance, you have effectively accessed an important source of “free speed” to make you a faster athlete. This needs to be developed right alongside your aerobic endurance.
The third component — consistent supplemental work — refers to the need to dedicate time to activities that complement your normal sport specific workouts. This includes form drills, functional strength exercises, and preventive care to ensure flexibility and mobility. These supplemental activities need not take a great deal of time, but even a little supplemental work can go a long way toward making you a better athlete as long as you are consistent with it.
TRAINING GUIDE CONTENTS
– Train with a Purpose
– The ABCs of Systematic Training
– The R&R of Training
– Begin with the End in Mind
2. Exercise Science Concepts
– Overreaching and Overtraining
– Energy Systems
– Aerobic Capacity
– Lactate Threshold
– Aerobic Threshold
– Muscle Fiber Types
3. Monitor Your Training Intensity
– What is Training Intensity?
– Key Indicators of Intensity
– Using Training Zones
– Training by Feel, or Perceived Exertion
– Training with Pace
– Training with Heart Rate
– Running with Power
4. Create Your Training Plan
– Prioritizing Your Events
– Overview of the Training Phases
– Choosing Your Periodization Schedule
– Filling in the Details of the Overall Plan
5. Create Your Weekly Workouts
– Creating Weekly Schedules
– Establishing and Developing Your Base
– Building Upon Your Base
– Peaking for Your Target Event
– Race Week and Race Day Warmup
6. Functional Strength
7. Recovery and Nutrition
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