Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Perils of Incorrect Training

"Why Crossfit works...but really doesn't. The randomness of adaptation, and why beginners just need change."

"... When your bread and butter is randomized intensity, performed at near max or to exhaustion, you can’t just simply push beyond exhaustion to the next level. Once fitness gains flat line, no amount of pushing will create a new stimulus. You’re maxing out the intensity, and because you don’t believe in progressive, controlled, low-moderate and high intensity mixes, you’ve got to nowhere to go. There’s no way to progressively overload and create new stimuli and adaptation....

"...But what about those “joggers” who don’t look fit who you may see out at the park. You know the ones who may have gained a few pounds, yet still can crank out their 5 mile daily run. I often get pointed towards these people as evidence that running somehow makes you fat…

"The reality is that jogging syndrome describes the opposite side of the coin. It’s the person who gets caught running their same volume at the same moderate intensity every single day. When we do this never-ending cycle of same run or same workout each and every day, we get really efficient at doing that same run or workout. It’s no longer pushing us outside of homeostasis. We’ve nailed it and it’s a walk in the park.

"Of course not every run needs to challenge us, as we need to recover and then cement adaptations, but if we never challenge our norm, we will not adapt. So we get really efficient at running our 5mi run at 8min pace every day for example. Our body hones in on the most efficient way to run at that pace and distance, and that’s about it. Our “fitness” won’t progress, and those extra 400 calories burned a day might not be enough to stave off gaining a layer of fat. So to me this presentation of the jogger as unfit, is simply not true. He’s prepared for what he continuously does, jog 5 miles, but not much else. But if that’s all he cares about, then that’s fine I guess, but he probably should include some variation....

"...The problem is we’ve got this polarized argument of long slow VS. super intense. When in reality, that is an argument no one is having, or should be having...."

Steve Magness, with a typically terrific, thoughtful post. Read the whole thing.

When I started running seriously 12 years ago, I started by running a 5.1 mile loop in a local park. I did that same loop religiously, in the same direction, for the next year. (Yes, I can be OCD when I want to be. :)

The first time I did it, it took me 2.5 hours. It was agony, a total suffer-fest. I couldn't run up any of the hills. When I stopped doing that run regularly, I did it in 49 minutes, a year later.

But I always did that run the same way: I ran as hard as I could for the whole run. In early runs this was typically interrupted by an exercise-induced asthma attack at the start of the first hill. (Oddly, that was always it for the asthma for the rest of the run...) What I was not getting was the training effect at longer distances that one needs to run longer races easily, as Steve would have predicted. I also stopped improving, as my 5k and half-marathon PRs were stuck at the ones that I set on my first races.