It’s a Process
I try to always practice what I preach. When I wrote about the 4 things that everyone should be able to do now and forever, I made sure that I was able to do them all. One of those things is to cover 5 miles on foot. I typically do this every spring by myself. This year, I set out on my annual 5 mile run with my friend and coworker, Willis. Willis is not only younger, better looking, and much more athletic, but he can run 5 miles much faster than I can. My usual 5 miles turned into a gruelling race that was symbolic of me chasing the heels of youth. At about mile 3, I decided to let it go and Willis ran ahead of me, out of site. In that moment, I knew that I was in an uphill battle against ageing and decreased performance. And I knew the best plan to stay as close to the performance of my former 25 year old self was to implement a new process in my training schematic. I decided that I wanted to be able to run for 10 miles. This happens every once in awhile for me. I get inspired by something and begin a new process to implement a new goal into my training schematic. The last time this happened was when I watched the World Cup 3 years ago. I decided I wanted to start playing soccer again. It took some time to gain back my touch and skill, but I managed to do it. Training to run 10 miles is a much harder and more frustrating task. However, I realize as I go through this process, it is no different than starting any other new movement practice or adding anything new to your current movement practice. It’s no different than deciding that you want to do a pull up or run a sub 7 minute mile. The process is the same. When you become aware of the fact that adding something new into what you do on a daily or weekly basis has a process, then it becomes easier to manage. Here is what I have found helpful in my process of implementing something new.
Skill First - Whatever it is you are trying to learn or do, first master the skill or technique involved. For me, I began to dig deep into running mechanics and becoming a more efficient runner. I do running drills before I run each time.
Slowly Dose in Intensity - Once you start to understand and can show effective mechanics, then you can add in intensity. After I was able to express a gait that didn’t have a heel strike or use my hamstrings, I started to introduce 200 or 400 meter runs into my workouts.
Add Volume - You can now add more repetition. I did this by adding in running longer distances once a week.
Allow for Change to Occur- Remember that the new stimulus must be followed by some recovery in order for adaption to take place. I tackle this by only throwing in running or running drills a few times a week. The rest of the time I make sure to follow the guidelines of high intensity interval training along with recovery. For me, each week looks different. Typically I train 3 days on and 1 day off or 5 days on and 2 days off. My recovery days are spent either working on a skill like running mechanics or digging into mobility.
Tinker- Be open to bringing it back to the drawing board and taking a new approach to the process. I started off by trying to run too much each week. When I backed it down, I was more effective, felt better, and started to see results.
It all comes together by being open to learning something new. Your process could be as simple as being able to do a pull up or moving from swinging a 30 lb kettlebell to a 40 lb kettlebell. Of course, like with anything else, it takes time to go through this process of adding in something new. The body has to take time to adapt before you see change. Take your time, be patient, and use a coach as a resource for guidance.