These are some good habits to help get you tuned up either while racing or training.
Stretching 10 minutes a day will provide a number benefits. It helps to increase flexibility, range of motion, and reduce the risk of injury. By stretching regularly, athletes can improve their overall athletic performance, speed, and agility. It is important to note, however, that not all stretching is created equal and different types of stretches may be appropriate for different activities and sports. It is best to consult with a qualified coach or trainer to develop a stretching routine that is appropriate for your specific needs and goals.
Here are some general guidelines to consider when creating a stretching routine:
- Start with a warm-up: Before stretching, it’s important to warm up your muscles with some light aerobic exercise, such as jogging in place or jumping jacks. This can help to increase blood flow to your muscles and prepare them for stretching.
- Stretch major muscle groups: Focus on stretching the major muscle groups in your body, including your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, hips, lower back, chest, and shoulders. Hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds, or longer if you feel comfortable.
- Use proper form: When stretching, it’s important to use proper form to avoid injury and maximize the benefits of each stretch. Make sure to keep your muscles relaxed and avoid bouncing or jerking movements, which can cause strain.
- Stretch after exercise: Stretching after exercise can help to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery. This can include static stretching (holding a stretch in a stationary position), dynamic stretching (moving through a range of motion), or foam rolling (using a foam roller to massage and release muscle tension).
- Listen to your body: Pay attention to your body and adjust your stretching routine as needed. If a stretch feels uncomfortable or causes pain, back off and try a different stretch or modify the stretch to make it easier.
Remember, stretching should be a regular part of your fitness routine, not just something you do once in a while. By incorporating stretching into your daily routine, you can improve your flexibility, reduce muscle tension, and prevent injury.
There’s a lot of speculation and research in the area of proper athletic hydration. However what is consistent is that it is important. Even well hydrated athletes will experience mild dehydration during an endurance event.
Mild dehydration is typically defined as a fluid loss of 1-2% of body weight. This means that if a person weighs 70 kilograms (154 pounds), a 1-2% loss of body weight would be equivalent to 700-1400 milliliters (24-48 ounces) of fluid. It is important to note that the amount of fluid loss required to cause dehydration can vary depending on factors such as individual sweat rates, exercise intensity, and environmental conditions, so it is essential to monitor fluid intake and stay hydrated during physical activity.
- Hydrate starting 48 hours before an event.
- Do not overhydrate and flush out electrolytes.
- Do not consume liquids in large amounts, drink small amounts many times a day.
- If you’re well hydrated and the temperature is in the range you’re used to training in, you can get away with about 30 to 45 minutes of exercise without starting to hit mild dehydration, however beyond that your body will start to creep into fatigue.
- Practice and train with your hydration. This avoids equipment issues and helps speed up your ability to drink while in motion and keeps you hydrated.
You body has 3 main energy pathways for you to keep moving. A good training program will focus on developing all 3. However your aerobic pathway will provide about 80% of all your energy in a 1 to 2 hour long race.
With this in mind look at our nutrition guide and training plans. Here’s an overview of the 3 primary energy pathways.
- ATP-PCr (phosphagen) system: This pathway provides energy for short-duration, high-intensity activities such as weightlifting, sprinting, and jumping. It relies on stored creatine phosphate (PCr) to quickly replenish ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the molecule that provides energy for cellular processes.
- Anaerobic glycolysis (lactic): This pathway provides energy for high-intensity activities lasting from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. It breaks down glucose without oxygen to produce ATP, and is used in activities such as middle-distance running and fast-paced team sports.
- Aerobic metabolism (oxidative): This pathway provides energy for endurance activities such as long-distance running, cycling, and swimming. It requires oxygen and breaks down glucose, fats, and sometimes proteins to produce ATP.
Here’s a video that breaks down those 3 pathways a little more and discusses how your body uses them over time.
Practice With A Purpose
Training to train, isn’t good enough. You need goals. You need to be focused on those goals. You need to progress. This video does a great job explaining how practice works and how to improve you efficiency when training.
- Intensely focused
- Target weaknesses
- Focus on the task at hand
- Minimize all distractions
- Start out slowly or in slow-motion.
- Cooridination is built through repitition
- Proper technique is easier to insure when starting slowly
- Gradual increase in speed gives you a better chance of doing them correctly.
- Take breaks – experts often take breaks or do multiple training sessions to re-enforce good habits and focus on problem areas
- Visualize – practice in your brain in vivid detail. This technique is used by all elite athletes and improves real life performance
Can be a great tool to enhance your training.
Muscle fatigue occurs when the muscles are unable to maintain their force output due to a variety of factors, including depletion of energy sources, buildup of metabolic waste products, failure of neuromuscular transmission, accumulation of damage, and central nervous system changes. Understanding the mechanisms of muscle fatigue can help athletes optimize their training and performance by managing fatigue and improving recovery strategies.
Measure Your Performance
You won’t know if you’re making progress if you’re just comparing yourself to someone else. They could be training more, they could have a bad day, an injury or feeling unusually good. Measure your performance against a something that is consistent like your speed or time trials.
To do this, get a sports watch and a heart rate monitor. The watch will log your time, distance and give you speed. The heart rate monitor will tell you how hard your engine is running. Once you can collect that data, you can then devise a set of tests to measure your progress. Only then are you ready to really test your progression and make adjustments to your training as you need.
Develop a Training Plan
There are a lot of options here. However the most important thing is to track your training and how you are feeling. Don’t add a bunch of volume to your workout just because you want to start hard charging everything. Also don’t just race at top speed everywhere you go. You’ll either over train or over strain your body and experience backwards progress.
This video shows some of the common training methods using intensity and time in those zones of training. It’s a complicated subject, but if you’re serious, it’s time to start learning.
One of the single most important aspects of training is to allow yourself time to recover. Without proper recovery time you will risk injury and have declining performance.
Recovery time is as important as training. As you age, recovery becomes even more important. For athletes over 40 typically you might find it necessary to have 2 training weeks and 1 recovery week. Athletes under 40 typically can sustain 3 training weeks to 1 recovery week with no issues.
- Reduced risk of injury: Recovery helps to reduce the risk of injury by allowing the body time to repair damaged tissues and build new muscle fibers. When athletes push themselves too hard without adequate rest, they are more prone to overuse injuries such as tendonitis or stress fractures.
- Improved performance: Rest and recovery are essential for improving athletic performance. When athletes take time to rest and recover, they allow their bodies to replenish energy stores, repair muscle fibers, and adapt to the stresses of training, which can lead to improved performance.
- Reduced fatigue: Recovery helps to reduce fatigue and improve overall energy levels. When athletes push themselves too hard without adequate rest, they are more likely to experience burnout and a decline in performance.
- Better mental health: Recovery is important for mental health as well as physical health. Rest and relaxation help to reduce stress, improve mood, and prevent burnout.
Good nutrition is absolutely critical. You don’t see Formula 1 cars getting fueled up with dirty gas and bits of rubbish. So don’t do that to yourself either. Complex carbohydrates and lean proteins are keys to keeping your engine running.
Use Your Head
Good cognitive abilities are key to good performance. Everyone know what it’s like to compete when you’re “not feeling it” or when things “felt right”.
We are also familiar with getting “psyched” out mentally and feeling like your performance slips.
Visualization can significantly help with making your mind bullet proof and ready to perform when the pressure is on. You cal need to take time to self-assess your cognitive skill levels during your performance. Are you focused? Are you looking around unnecessarily? Are you obsessing about someone who just passed you?
This video is an example of professionals and how they employ their mental abilities.
As part of the mental game, your Perceived Effort plays an important role in how you and your body will respond to the immediate future. If you perceive something as being high effort (catching that guy that just passed you), you can make that challenge even harder and degrade your physical abilities.
Perceived Effort is a concept you should be aware of so you don’t let your brain trick you into slowing your body down.