Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Training Tips to Ponder
I've whacked a shot of Dara Torres, who competed in the Beijing Olympics last year in the 50m freestyle. Dara looks amazing, but from reading more about her, she's a woman that has "trained smart". She has overcome injury to be swimming world class times at 41. She does a lot of stretching and flexibility work, functional training in the gym (ie training to help her move better in the pool) and other strength training I am sure. I aspire to be in tip top shape like Dara and not let my injuries hamper my progress towards good form again.
Here are some tips to help you get the best out of your training:
1) Progress, not Perfection:
All of us, whether we're Olympic athletes like Dara, or fitness enthusiasts like myself need to focus on injury free progression in all of our training. A "niggle" is the body's way of warning us that all is not well, an injury is our body's way of whacking you on the head with a paddle and making you get a grip. When this happens or any other setback occurs you need to look at your progression relative to your situation - for example "Even though I'm not doing a sub 20 minute swim for my triathlon, I'm effecting better movement through my rotator cuff daily and doing all my rehab". The sub 20 minute (if you're talented and nobody kicks you) swim will come in due time. Walk before you run!
2) Rules not Rigidity:
For me this applies to nutrition the most, but can be equally applied to exercise. Your number one concern is when you take a mouthful of food "am I honouring myself by eating this" irrespective of whether it contains fats, carbs, protein or whatever. The drive to eat well should come from an inherent desire to do what's best for you and for most, we tend to thrive on whole food sources, with the odd treat thrown in. Rigidity with nutrition is really an extension of dieting - eliminating whole food groups, only eating certain macronutrients at certain times, being anal at EVERY meal about how your food is prepped (this can be reasonable if you have a finite goal or food allergy, but totally unreasonable if you're at your bestie's wedding as the maid of honour). Many people get caught up in the hype of nutrient timing. For most of us, the pre training meal should be the meal we eat before we go training and the post training meal is the one that you eat afterwards. Does it matter what you eat? Maybe if you're an elite athlete , but if you're a regular person with kids, a 9-5 job and limited time, you are just better off sticking to regular nutritious meals ( and avoid things that come out of packets with a barcode!)
3) Want versus Need:
If it's something you want to do often it's something you don't need to do. This was a common theme with many of my PT clients, especially the boys - who wanted to work all the muscles they could see (eg chest and quadriceps) versus the muscles they needed to develop (ie back, glutes, hamstrings). The best way of getting them to see the light was telling them that we girls dig guys with nice butts. End of story.
4) Planning, Not Paralysis by Analysis
Too many people talk about what they can do in the gym, on the road or on the track and you never actually see them deliver. They get caught up in the minutiae of planning everything down to the last crank of their pedal stroke or the last bicep curl. You do need a plan though if you want to tackle a specific event - if you're not sure get a fantastic Coach and do what they say "follow the plan". My best advice (borrowed from Shelley) is that if you want to add more muscle you need to lift heavy shit and eat protein. Simple, really.
5) Fun, Not Fear
Something we often forget is that fitness should be fun. I've read a few blogs lately about making sacrifices to be a better athlete, about strength, courage and commitment and whilst these are all admirable qualities to have, very often many of the best are motivated because of the adrenalin rush that training can give you. Recently, a few of Australia's swimming greats have retired, the indominitable Libby Lenton and Jodie Henry who made the interesting comment that she got a tremendous buzz from training, but that competing left her cold. I have seen this in some of my clients as well and interestingly enough, a more laid back approach has had nothing short of spectacular results.
So get out there, have a rough plan, train hard and enjoy yourselves!