So having spent most of my youth and pretty much all my adult life in and around gym goers and sports professionals, I often found myself asking questions such as ‘how do the top guys make this look so easy?’ and ‘why am I dying, yet these guys over here don’t look like their in that much pain?’ Many hours of soul searching later I came to the conclusion that these guys are performing like a Ferrari and I’m not performing like a Ferrari!!. Time for a change…
So let’s take two cars, say one is the aforementioned Ferrari, and one is a Pickup. They both start at 0 mph, both equal up to this point happy in their idling state. Now we ask both cars to go from 0 mph to 100 mph (you can see what’s coming can you). At 100 mph, the Ferrari is working at probably around 60%, still well with in its capability and still room for it to accelerate more and push harder if required. The Pickup on the other hand is working at 95% and is having to push hard to maintain that 100 mph (yep thats me when coach screams push harder!!) there isn’t much, (if anything) left in the tank so to be asked to maintain this or push more, means I am not going to in a good place.
How does training make it so I can perform like a Ferrari?
So let’s do the maths. I know that working at 95% of my maximum isn’t going to be sustainable for very long. That 60%, 70% or maybe even 80% is going to be sustainable for a lot longer.
My ultimate goal for training should be to ensure that I am able to build my base that high enough so I can be chilling at 80% and still beating people. Now if I can do that, then when the time comes to need a sprint finish I still have plenty left in the tank to be able to utilize and I have the confidence to know this also.
What does this look like in training?
Honest truth? You have to go a bit slower to get faster in the long run. That sounds like a bold statement and I completely hear you when you scream ‘Going fast makes you faster!’ No it doesn’t.
Any well structured plan or training should have periods of time when you are working at getting that low end endurance better so your capacity increases and we work to get that 60% measure as high as possible. Its rule 101 of periodization, and an absolutely critical element of developing the most well rounded version of you for all sports.
Get comfortable in that long steady state and in 3 to 6 months you’ll notice marked improvements in your performance.
Putting it to the test
As a rookie my immediate performance when it comes to competition would normally look like this: Start at 0 and go straight to 95% immediately. Try and hold this as long as I can but eventually know that I’m going to have to back it off and drop back down in order to be able to recover. I will then try to repeat this all the way through my workout, having times where I inject a surge of energy but having to back off to recover, up until the last minute when I know I need to push so throw everything at it at unceremoniously die on the floor afterwards.
As someone who has now put the hours into training, my competition now looks a lot different. Rather than going out to 95%, I go out to 60%,and gradually build the intensity as I go through the workout. That last 1 to 2 mins I can then hit the afterburners on the final stage to allow me to finish and empty the tank.