By Paul Cadman, pro sports coach and manager, sports nutritionist and endurance athlete
Building an effective training program can be a complex task, especially if you’re competing in a sport that has more than one discipline like triathlon. There are however a few guiding principles that will help make the process of constructing an effective program easier and less daunting.
Here are a few tips to help you out…
Consistency over time delivers results, it is at the heart of every effective training program no matter what your sport. The key concept here is known as ‘progressive overload’. To perform at your best you need to provide consistent, sustainable and appropriate training load over a long period of time. This will allow adaptation and progression to occur without running the risk of illness, injury and over-training.
Often overlooked but vital for success! Training breaks the body down, rest and recovery makes it stronger. Without quality recovery the chances of injury, illness and over-training are increased significantly. Simple things you can do to aid recovery include; ensuring good quality sleep, foam rolling, massage, yoga, including active recovery (low-intensity exercise) in your program, sticking to a well-balanced whole food diet and proper hydration. You might also want to consider introducing a smart solution that helps the body to recover from the oxidative stress that excessive physical exertion can cause, by balancing free radicals, such as taking MitoQ.
Following the SMART goal setting process will help ensure your training program is realistic and aligned to your goals. Being realistic with your expectations will help direct your approach. While we’d all love to devote the same amount of time and effort to our chosen sport that the pros do, the reality is we can’t so there’s very little point having goals in place that may impact negatively on other parts of our lives. Setting SMART goals will help maintain a healthy balance and manage stress. If you’re not familiar with this tool click here for more insight.
Focus on process
Build a roadmap aligned to your goals and events, focus on the process of working through that, not the end result. Control the controllable and trust your process to deliver the result you want.
Specificity is a key training pillar. The closer you get to your ‘A’ race the more specific you’ll need to make your program. There’s no use riding flat roads if your race is full of hills! To help set yourself up for success, be familiar with the different demands of your race and tailor your program accordingly.
As the saying goes, ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got’. Think more broadly about those wise words in the context of an effective training program. Why? Because you just can’t train the same way in the same environment all the time and expect to adapt, progress and improve as an athlete. Variety comes in many forms from periodizing your program throughout the year to running on a variety of different surfaces to including strength and conditioning. What variety does within a program is provide different training stimuli that forces the body to adapt, which in turn provides progression and improvement. Don’t fall into the trap of always doing what you’ve always done if you want to achieve peak performance.
There are several components to think about when it comes to nutrition. First rule of thumb is real food comes first. This should underpin your approach to day to day eating. Provide the body with everything it needs to do what you are asking of it in your training and general life. Focus on correct energy balance, mix of macronutrients – protein is often under-consumed by athletes – appropriate amounts of micronutrients, proper hydration and nutrient timing.
I recommend using vitamin D during the winter months, magnesium, omega 3 and a good quality broad spectrum multivitamin year-round. I also recommend dialing in cellular level support. In my experience both personally and in working with a number of clients I have found MitoQ can help support quicker recovery and improved energy production, which translates into performance gains. It's a product I would suggest including in your training toolbox.
Wellbeing is the first building block that should be laid before embarking on your training journey. Think about your holistic wellbeing and understand that without being ‘healthy’ chances are you won’t perform at your best. This is a blanket statement and sits over the top of the other key pillars of an effective training program.
While this article has provided tips to help build an effective training program, experimenting to optimize the approach that works best for you is important. We are all individuals, and one glove doesn't fit all!