When you think about progress in training, there are two scientific principles that should be followed in order to maximize your results. The first principle is that of specificity. Specificity simply states that you get better at what you train, and in the way you train. For example, if your training involves running as fast as you can for short distances, then you will excel at activities involving short bursts of energy such as sprinting, which is a highlight in most team sports. On the other hand, if you train for a 10k by running many shorter runs, you may lack the depth/endurance needed to perform well during the 10k. Specificity is a simple principle that is very easy to follow.
Overload is the second scientific principle that can be used to help you achieve your training goals. Overload states that: in order for improvement to occur in training, one must attempt to do more than they are used to in order to overload the tissues, thus enabling them to adapt to the load. This is incomplete though, since with this statement one may think that they can constantly overload their tissues and become increasingly better at what they train for. In theory this is true, but it occurs at a much slower pace than one would initially think, because the adaptations to improve are only made during recovery, and as such, a recovery is as important as the stress/training itself. The planned pace of overload is called progressive training, and involves increasing the training load placed on the tissues in small increments of 5-10% per week. Research has shown that these smaller increments place just enough stress on the tissues to stimulate growth without causing excessive damage. A little damage is necessary in order for the body to have something to adapt to, so progressive overload provides enough of a challenge to a workout while avoiding the injury that results from overtraining.
In the world of strength training, the typical way to use progressive overload is to increase the weight by 5-10 lbs whenever the current weight is performed successfully for full sets in 1 or 2 workout sessions. This is a safe method for building muscular size and strength. In the world of running however, progressive overload is a bit more difficult to take advantage of. Does one try to run faster, or add more distance to their training program? Legendary distance running coach Greg McMillan has devised a system through which to guide runners in their attempts to run longer, faster and more efficiently. The McMillan calculator that he created gives a runner a range of paces for different track distances, and then takes them through a steady progression of adding distance and pace to interval training. This method is very effective for those who have had trouble improving their run times, or have had injury due to pushing themselves too hard. Using this system also helps runners to become more accustomed to their paces, and allows for the guidance of a coach to correct any deviations in running form that may hinder performance.
Being specific in your training, and using progressive overload to push your body to improve are two scientifically proven ways to achieve your training goals while minimizing the risk of injury. Use these techniques to your advantage and outperform your former self!
All Run-Smart participants are provided a benchmark test and McMillan paces to maximize the effectiveness of the overload while preventing overtraining. You will also be taught how to use them! Your interval program will be specific to your goals. Whether that’s a stronger hockey season or first marathon, prepare to feel the benefits within 4-6 weeks.
By Coach Kevin Hehr
As founder of Ivanco Fitness, my promise is to ensure your journey in fitness is unlocked and uplifted. It was the summer of 2012 and I was burnt out - I had spent over 10,000 hours personally training clients through rehabilitation to health, and from health to strength. Young and old and in between, I worked with these individuals to help them create their best version of themselves. While this brought me much joy, I was stressed, tired, and knew I was limited to only a small group of people I could help in this way. I had worked with other coaches along the way, and realized it was time to build a team and create a system that would allow talented coaches to create meaningful connections with those who seek to uplift their lives through physical training. Having brought the right people on board, Ivanco now works as a team of trainers, kinesiologists, holistic nutritionists and administrative staff to provide a more streamlined and versatile experience than an independent trainer could offer. Yours in health, Ivan.