The Trap of High Intensity
Before I get into the topic of the post, I have confirmation of my results at the Eltham 10km. 9th place overall in 39:31.
When attempting to really bump up the training load by adding some very high intensity work, there are a number of risks. The obvious and most quoted is that of injury (higher joint loads = higher risk of damage). There is also the suggestion there is a greater risk of overtraining, which for the most part I dispute. My main concern is the problem of less training, and more importantly, less specific training.
My concerns won't relate to everyone, but this blog is about my own training. Importantly I am trying to work out what training will give me the best results.
High intensity does develop the ability to go fast. So much so I strongly believe it must be incorporated into the program to some degree. Being able to travel fast can only be used to effect if it is supported by the more sustained paces and endurance required in a race situation. High intensity training makes fast easy. If it is at the expense of the prolonged endurance training, then it just cannot be sustained. In this situation, then fast is too easy.
My attempts at ramping up the intensity has resulted in plenty of missed training. There are two main reasons for this:
- More recovery required, so I'll drop some training to freshen up for the next key session.
- Greater mental acceptance it is okay to miss some sessions because I am still going hard.
For me, the above two points do not translate to good training. For example, running 6 x 300m as fast as I can over the set, with 1-2min recovery hurts, feels fast and leaves my legs trashed for up to three days. I know I am better served with two training sessions that are closer to race-like speeds, but only take 1-2 days for me to recover from.
There are so many different opinions on training. You can easily search through the internet to find something that matches what you want to do. The trick is to work out what suits you personally. To use an over-used phrase, "speed is the icing on the cake." Relative speed is great. It is fun. Only focusing on it, sends my training backwards for the longer stuff.
I need the cake. I also like cake, and could very happily eat it without icing. We all know it is better with a bit of icing.
Looking back at my best races, they were achieved with award winning cakes. The basics of baking are simple. Messing around too much with the simple ingredients and ratios is likely to result in a cake that doesn't, rise, sinks in the middle, burns on the outside or simply doesn't work. My focus will be on getting that cake right, and hopefully finished with some pretty snazzy icing. How I do that is topic of my next post.