Every training session should have a clear purpose.

As I’ve noted before, so many people go along to the gym and drift aimlessly through the same steady comfortable routine they perform every session. Don’t get me wrong, they may still work up a good sweat and are undoubtedly way ahead of those sitting on the couch at home. But is there a clear purpose to this ‘training’? In other words, training for what?

There probably those who are training to be a ‘better’ runner perhaps or to ‘have a flatter stomach’ or ‘to lose weight’ or to ‘gain more muscle’. But how many actually define their goals clearly and adopt a clear long, medium and short term strategy to get there? Very few I believe, yet without this focus it is difficult to progress and individual sessions become meaningless.

Before every training session you should be able to clearly define its purpose and how it fits into a long term plan to meet your goals. Every session should have a purpose. For example, somebody with the aim of running 10k in under 40 minutes might have a weekly programme that includes an over-distance run of 8-10 miles to build endurance, some medium length intervals of, say, 800 metres to 1500 metres or more to build speed endurance and maybe some 200-400 metre intervals to focus more on pure speed. There may be some 5k races built in to the schedule to prepare the body for the rigours of the longer distance and gain some idea of correct pacing. There might also be the occasional tempo run. There will certainly be days which are pure recovery – that in itself is a very valid purpose for a session or a non-session. To run 10k in under 40 minutes implies being able to run 5k in around 19 minutes or 1 kilometre in probably around 3:45 flat out, so the shorter intervals will focus on getting close to these times over the weeks prior to the race. There may well be some gym days built into this too for specific fitness purposes.

Of course the programme will vary according to the season and will be progressive in order to bring the runner to peak 10k race fitness on one particular day. Note that nowhere in the program does it say just go out a run for 5 miles at a pace that is too fast for recovery and too slow to produce adaptation.

Whatever your goals, you will not progress as you could without a clear idea of where you are now, where you want to get to and a plan to get there. To achieve this you need some understanding of the principles of training. Some gym goers have this, most are fumbling in the dark with little pieces of information from this friend or that magazine or TV programme etc. If you are in this category, why not book in for a free personal training consultation? There’s nothing to lose – we find out where you are now, what your goals are and discuss ways of getting there, either on your own or with a trainer – it’s up to you. Just let me know if you’d like this.

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