While training a group of triathletes for the Age Group National Championships in Burlington, Vermont, it quickly became apparent that seemingly small things make a big difference. Here are 10 key lessons my athletes learned along the way.
Training Rule #1: Listen to your body.
Don't neglect aches or pains; treat them before they become major injuries. It's not unusual to start a run workout with some discomfort or pain. If the pain continues after you have warmed up, however, you should stop the workout and cool down.
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Also, take a couple of days off before attempting the workout again. It's much better to take off a couple of days to recover than to be forced to take off a couple of weeks or months to heal. Some therapies include massage, hot / cold treatment, foam rolling, Active Release Technique and physical therapy.
Training Rule #2: Warm up and cool down.
Take 10 to 15 minutes at the beginning of each workout to collect your thoughts, focus on the workout and get your body ready to train. At the end of each workout, take 10 to 15 minutes to cool down and go over what went well as well as where improvement is needed. If you can't finish the workout due to time constraints, cut back the main set but keep the warm up and cool down.
Training Rule #3: Include rest days and or rest periods in your training plan.
Your body needs rest to recover from the challenges of training. Do not attempt any workouts unless you are properly rested, fueled and hydrated. It is better to skip a workout and rest than it is to try and complete a workout when you are fatigued, hungry or dehydrated.
Training Rule #4: Change your running shoes.
The best running shoes are the shoes that fit your feet the best. They should be replaced every 400 to 500 miles, and you should only use your running shoes for run workouts.
Training Rule #5: The rest period between intervals is just as important, if not more important, than the interval.
If you notice your interval times exceeding 15 seconds or your form breaking down, stop the workout. Always finish the workout feeling that you could complete one more interval.
Training Rule #6: Alternate the direction you run around the track.
Always running in the same direction on the track can lead to muscle imbalances. Run clockwise one day and counter clockwise the next. Similarly, since most roadways slope down from the center line, always running on the left hand side of the road can lead to muscle imbalances, too.
Training Rule #7: Remember the 10 percent rule.
Don't increase your running volume by more than 10 percent per week.
Training Rule #8: Include core workouts and yoga in your training routine.
These workouts will help you to get strong and correct imbalances that occur from endurance training.
Training Rule #9: Know yourself. Learn what works best for you and stick with it.
Training Rule #10: Take care of yourself.
To get fast, you need to train consistently. To train consistently, you need to be healthy.
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